The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leadership Summit held its annual summit this year in Papua New Guinea (PNG) November 12-18, but for the first time in the Forum’s history, economies attending failed to reach consensus. The area of contention was around the Multilateral Trade System (MTS) section. This was also the first year that USCIB did not send a delegation to the APEC Summit, however USCIB contributed to earlier meetings this year, including the APEC meetings in Chile held September 11-12, which produced new principles in transit.
“This is clearly a disappointing outcome,” said USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener, who coordinates USCIB’s work on APEC. “APEC’s strength is the ability of member economies to find consensus on topics of mutual benefit, like trade. It is apparent that differing visions of trade policy blocked agreement for the first time in nearly 30 years.”
Following the summit, PNG released Statements to highlight what has been accomplished this year, including a reaffirmation of APEC’s commitment to achieve balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure economic growth and prosperity in the APEC region, while pledging to combat protectionism and unfair trade practices. The Statements also emphasized the need to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to improve and strengthen the body to better address existing and emerging global trade challenges.
Furthermore, the Statement noted continuing support for the Work Program on E-commerce to advance initiatives on e-commerce, investment, small and medium enterprises, and trade and women’s economic empowerment.
For the 2018 APEC year, PNG chose the theme of “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future.” APEC will be led by Chile in 2019 and will focus on the digital economy, regional connectivity, and women’s role in economic growth. Chile previously hosted APEC in 2004.