Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Recently, leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, including US President Donald Trump, have pledged to work towards free, open and non-discriminatory trade and investment to revive their coronavirus-battered economies.
The leaders cast aside differences to issue their first joint statement, in which they agreed to further deepen regional integration by working towards a massive free trade agreement involving all the 21 APEC economies.
• The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. The APEC process is supported by a permanent secretariat based in Singapore.
• The 21 economies cover 37 percent of the global population, 48 percent of the world's trade volume and 60 percent of global gross domestic product.
• APEC's 21 members aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
• APEC ensures that goods, services, investment and people move easily across borders. Members facilitate this trade through faster customs procedures at borders; more favourable business climates behind the border; and aligning regulations and standards across the region.
• The forum adapts to allow members to deal with important new challenges to the region's economic well-being. This includes ensuring disaster resilience, planning for pandemics, and addressing terrorism.
• APEC leaders adopted the Putrajaya Vision 2040, a new 20-year growth vision to replace the Bogor Goals named after the Indonesian town where leaders agreed in 1994 to free and open trade and investment. They pledged to build an “open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful region” by 2040, and tasked officers to draw up implementation plans by next year.
Why India should join APEC?
APEC members including the United States see RCEP, the world's biggest trade bloc, and the 11-party Trans-Pacific Partnership as steps toward realizing an APEC-wide free trade agreement called the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
Membership in APEC will provide India a constructive forum to glean insight from other Asian countries that have already taken significant steps to advance their economies
APEC is the missing link to the India’s Act East policy.
Indian labour could be a big beneficiary of India joining the APEC because many APEC economies will face labour shortages in the future because of aging populations.
APEC and the WTO are complementary but unlike WTO, APEC has no treaty obligations.
APEC projects provide digital skills training for rural communities and help indigenous women export their products abroad, which is of great significance to India.