Thu, Nov 02, 2006 - Page 8 News List

APEC leaders' meeting is coming

By Darson Chiu 邱達生

The 2006 APEC leaders' meeting will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, on on the 18th and 19th of this month. As usual, the president of Taiwan has not been invited to attend this event.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) decided to appoint Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀) as his surrogate to the leaders' meeting. While the Presidential Office is concerned that the host country will be kind enough to extend the same courtesy to Chang as to the APEC leaders, we should also be interested in knowing what will be discussed at this gathering.

APEC countries or economies account for around 40 percent of the world's population, approximately 56 percent of world GDP and about 48 percent of world trade. APEC dominates all other regional organizations in terms of economic size. It organizes numerous events for specialists, senior officials, ministers and leaders in this region to discuss economic related issues every year.

The APEC leaders' meeting is the event that attracts the most media attention. According to the APEC international secretariat, major issues to be discussed at the summit this year will be how APEC manages itself and deals with the competitive landscape, how it fulfills its organizational goals and moves beyond those goals, and how APEC pursues sustainable development and growth through economic cooperation and enhancing human security.

The competitive landscape in the Asia-Pacific region has been influenced by major forces that include a proliferation of free trade agreements, deregulation of economic and trade policies, emerging markets entering global and regional competition, rearrangement of economic and business boundaries and the advent of advanced information technology. As a result, the expectations and behavior of people who live in the Asia-Pacific region are changing.

In a dynamic open system, APEC member economies ought to be able to find ways to maximize their competitive advantages. In response to the competitive landscape, countries have to seek strategic opportunities by quickly adapting themselves.

To generate strategic opportunities, APEC and its member economies need to recognize a pattern of opportunity, commercialize complex technologies, identify major driving forces and forecast world economic order. APEC countries should join forces to deal with the dynamic and competitive landscape, and most importantly, no one should be purposely excluded.

Regarding how APEC can fulfill its organizational goals and move beyond them, some have suggested that APEC should adopt a new model. They believe the original design may not be adequate. The goals of APEC can be characterized by its famous three pillars: trade and investment liberalization, trade and investment facilitation and economic and technical cooperation.

Due to the tremendous gap in economic development among APEC countries, APEC's decisionmaking process was originally non-binding. Adopting a new model indicates change. Are APEC countries ready for change?

An organization needs to specify its identity before adopting a new model -- otherwise, the efforts for change will fail to meet the needs of changing environments. An organization's identity is a combination of characteristics related to all stakeholders from both the supply and demand sides. An organization with an unclear identity has difficulty in managing internal and external relationships.

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