APEC’s moment of truth in Da Nang

Author: Peter Drysdale, ANU

APEC is a regional organisation defined by its commitment to open regionalism and multilateral arrangements.

The overarching priority for Asia today is to give voice to leadership that can provide a foundation for underwriting the global regime on which it so utterly relies. On that foundation alone, can Asia successfully engage its largest partner across the Pacific in APEC and protect its own interests in the global economic system? Can APEC’s agenda in Da Nang be directed to that purpose?

Delegates water a tree while they attend the inauguration of APEC Park in Danang, Vietnam, 9 November 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

It will not be an easy task. The United States is turning away from support for multilateral efforts as it has even from the narrow regional enterprise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Engagement will require immense diplomatic effort and leadership from Vietnam and its partners this year and beyond.

That is APEC’s defining mission now.

No one country — even the largest economy or the second biggest economy and largest trader in the world — can make the difference alone in holding the line on an open trading system. But there is a powerful interest in pushing collective leadership on trade openness from Asia.

While Asia has its challenges, it is also the most dynamic part of the global economy. Hence the intense focus on Asia’s response to the slowly unfolding economic global crisis, because of its size and importance …continue reading