Vietnam on July 21 kicked off one of its, major planning events for hosting next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum by opening the first international preparatory meeting in Hanoi.
Around 150 delegates of member countries at the meeting are discussing ways to identify opportunities for deepening cooperation among member economies, which are shifting their attention to sub-regional and bilateral trade agreements rather than focusing on the Apec process.
Representatives at the two-day “International Symposium on the Preparatory for Apec Vietnam 2006″will also propose the major themes and sub-themes for the coming Apec summit.
“Vietnam will take over the presidency of Apec from Korea at the end of this year. Therefore, the will keep striving to solve the challenges facing the Apec and making better changes for our community,” deputy prime minister of Vietnam Vu Khoan said in his opening speech.
This symposium is the first of a series of Apec meetings to be held in Vietnam in 2006. There will be a number of ministerial and official events that will conclude with the Leaders’ Meeting on 18?19 November in Hanoi.
Alan Bowman, director of the Asia Pacific Policy and Operation Division (PEP) of the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Daily on the sidelines of the meeting that it was important that an Asean member host the Apec given its very special role in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Vietnam is a very important Asean member and will have a very important role in making sure that countries or economies from the region will get fully engaged in the Apec,” he said.
“Hope fully this morning we will help Vietnam develop a clear economic theme. We also have something on security. The Apec is now reviewing trade and security to develop a appropriate agenda,” he said.
The symposium also seeks to establish a working relation between the member economies that are hosting the Apec processbetween2005 and2008, including Korea in 2005, Australia in 2007 and Peru in 2008. This year’s Apec progress, with the theme of “Toward a community: Meet the Challenges, Make the Change”, has been progressing under the leadership of Korea.
Since its establishment in 1989, the 22-member Apec is a unique forum for regular discussions among government officials, technical experts and corporate executives.
However, in a paper presented by Professor Liao Shaolian from Xiamen University in China at the meeting, the Apec is losing its role despite its many accomplishments in the last 15 years.
“It has been criticised by some commentators as having become just a taking shop’ or a ?bureaucratic club’. In the past years when more and more sub-regional and bilateral trade agreements were signed in the region, the Apec seemed “marginalized”, the professor said in his paper.
His proposals to the reform of the Apec include setting a long-term goal and operation mechanism, improving monitoring and peer review, strengthening cooperation and the Secretariat as well as handling properly the rapid growth of free trade agreements (FTA) in the Apec context.