Reflections on APEC's Progress in 1997 and the Challenges Ahead
The American Asian Review, Vol. 16, No. 4,pp. 95-136, Winter 1998
25 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2010
Date Written: February 1, 1998
The results of the 1997 APEC cycle under the Canadian chair are assessed against the backdrop of the rapid expansion of APEC from the first meeting of Ministers from twelve Pacific rim economies in Canberra in 1989. By the time of the Vancouver meetings, the number of economies in APEC had increased to 18, the level of contact had been elevated to Economic Leaders, some nine separate Ministerial processes had been launched, and two broad agendas under the general rubrics of Trade and Investment Liberalization and Facilitation (TILF) and Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH) were being pursued by some 17 different Committees, Working Groups and Expert Groups as well as a slew of subsidiary groups. The remarkable expansion of APEC activity reflected the vibrant economic activity in the region, the extent of the vacuum in the international institutional "architecture" in the Pacific region that existed pre-APEC, and some genuine success and/or sufficient promise of success in its main programs. In 1997 at Vancouver, the emphasis was on implementation. However, on the TILF agenda, the strength of the results were, as in the past, in terms of the launch of new initiatives (the Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalization (EVSL) program) rather than implementation. The infrastructure focus of the ECOTECH program similarly resulted in program development rather than implementation. APEC did not intercede in any major way in the Asian Crisis that erupted in mid-1997. APEC thus still faces the difficult challenge of demonstrating to a still-sceptical business and economic policy community that it is not a phenomenon of passing importance, the superficial result of an unsustainable Asian economic boom, but rather one of the institutional architects of an enduring prosperity in the Pacific basin.
Keywords: APEC, Asia-Pacific, regionalism, economic cooperation, trade liberalization, Asian Crisis
JEL Classification: F55, F13, F15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation