Cru­cial talks at APEC, ASEAN Sum­mits

Tempo - - Editorial -

THESE have been very busy days for many of the world’s lead­ers. The Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) meet­ing of lead­ers of coun­tries in Asia and around the Pa­cific Ocean was held in Da Nang, Viet­nam, on Novem­ber 8-10, fol­lowed by the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) Sum­mit and Re­lated Sum­mits in Manila on Novem­ber 12-14.

The lead­ers of the ten ASEAN na­tions met among them­selves at the Philip­pine In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­ter (PICC) yes­ter­day morning, fol­lowed in the afternoon by the ASEAN-United States Sum­mit, the ASEAN-China Sum­mit, the ASEAN-Repub­lic of Korea Sum­mit, the ASEAN-Ja­pan Sum­mit, and the ASEAN-United Na­tions Sum­mit.

These meet­ings of pres­i­dents and prime min­is­ters pro­vided op­por­tu­ni­ties for these lead­ers to take up var­i­ous press­ing con­cerns. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and China Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, for ex­am­ple, had much to dis­cuss be­tween just the two of them, in­clud­ing their trade im­bal­ance and the North Korea prob­lem.

Eco­nomic is­sues dom­i­nated the group and bi­lat­eral meet­ings, con­sid­er­ing the fact that ASEAN, in the words of Ja­pan Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, is to­day the world’s cen­ter of growth. Its pop­u­la­tion has grown in the last 50 years from 180 mil­lion to 640 mil­lion, while its com­bined Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) mush­roomed over a hun­dred times, from $22.5 bil­lion to $2.6 tril­lion, on a nom­i­nal ba­sis.

With the Philip­pines as chair­man of the ASEAN on its 50th an­niver­sary this year, Pres­i­dent Duterte has found him­self at the cen­ter of the suc­ces­sion of dis­cus­sions. At the in­au­gu­ral di­a­logue be­tween ASEAN and APEC in Viet­nam, he said he saw the two or­ga­ni­za­tions col­lab­o­rat­ing more closely to­gether, with ASEAN serv­ing as “re­gional pathfinder” for APEC’s “open re­gion­al­ism” – open­ing the door wider to the even­tual achieve­ment of lib­er­al­ized trade in Asia and the Pa­cific.

Out of the se­ries of top-level meet­ings in the two con­fer­ences, we can ex­pect ac­tion plans and pro­grams of var­i­ous kinds in the com­ing months. These have been truly cru­cial events with far-rang­ing ef­fects in world af­fairs and we have been at their very cen­ter.

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