As a founding member, APEC offers Canada the opportunity to further strengthen its trade and economic ties with some of the asia-pacific`s most dynamic economies. APEC also serves as a platform for the exchange of best practices with key partners in the areas of trade, economic integration and structural reforms. But APEC also has distinct drawbacks as a forum for serious trade negotiations. APEC is not a mini-WTO in which serious negotiations lead to compromises and agreements at the negotiating table. In order to avoid contentious negotiations, APEC has put in place a more confrontational process with serious drawbacks. More than 20 Government of Canada partner departments are involved in APEC`s broad agenda, which ranges from customs procedures and regulatory reforms to women`s economic empowerment, mental health and health industry ethics. In this regard, APEC plays a valuable role as an incubator of ideas and provides an opportunity for Canada to shape the trade priorities of the Asia-Pacific region. Global Affairs Canada coordinates Canada`s engagement with APEC. In 1993, the United States held the first annual meeting of APEC Heads of State and Government to provide new impetus and high-level commitment to trade liberalization and economic cooperation, develop a sense of community in the region, and promote sustainable growth and equitable development. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) brings together member states to discuss trade and investment issues. Members are diverse, ranging from rich economies like the United States, Japan and Australia at one end of the economic spectrum, to China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea much poorer at the other, to the accelerated tiger economies of Southeast Asia, Mexico and Chile in between.
In 1995, the 18 APEC countries accounted for 55% of world GDP, about half of world trade and 38% of the world`s population [see chart below]. Peru and Vietnam will most likely be admitted soon, while nine other countries (Russia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Macau, Mongolia, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador) are currently on the waiting list. APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, provides an opportunity for 18 countries with close trade and investment ties to discuss a wide range of economic issues. So far, APEC has achieved two tangible achievements: a comprehensive but vaguely formulated commitment in 1994 by its member states to open up to free trade and investment by 2010 and 2020, and a central role in the negotiation of the 1996 Information Technology Agreement (ITA). However, APEC threatens to fade. When this year`s summit begins on November 19, the United States will need to push for comprehensive reform of the APEC negotiating process if the organization is to have any chance of achieving its ambitious trade reform goals. For at least some regions, APEC members may account for such a large share of a product`s global exports that APEC liberalization will primarily benefit its own members – although others abroad ultimately choose not to reciprocate. Information technology is one such area, and APEC`s success with at ITA confirms the idea of APEC as a springboard for some global sectoral liberalization initiatives. Consumer electronics, trucks, bicycles and some industrial chemicals pass a similar test, accounting for 70% or more of APEC members` global trade. But the product areas that would pass such a test are not many, and it seems that with the ITA, the least dry fruits have already been picked.
And in regions where APEC members do not massively dominate global trade, it is difficult to see why non-members would likely accept a trade deal negotiated by a self-proclaimed APEC Executive Committee for the global economy, as was the case with the ITA. Since its inception in 1989, the total value of trade between APEC economies has nearly quadrupled from $3.1 trillion in 1989 to $24 trillion in 2018, representing an average growth rate of 7.1 percent per year. The latest ITA is an example of what can be achieved and what remains to be done. The APEC Members` agreement to push for the complete abolition of tariffs on information technology products was swiftly transmitted to the WTO and adopted in December 1996. However, it is entirely predictable that instead of disappearing, trade conflicts in information technology will now move to a new level: the ability of governments to use investment policy, procurement, standards, subsidized credit, administrative guidelines and other national policy tools to create preferences for their domestic industry after tariff elimination. APEC provides an appropriate and potentially fruitful forum to begin discussing these barriers. At a historic summit in 1994, APEC announced an ambitious goal of establishing free trade and investment regimes in the Asia-Pacific region for members with developed economies by 2010. The group hopes to achieve the same goals for its developing economic members by 2020. At the 2001 Meeting of Heads of State and Government in Shanghai, APEC leaders pushed for a new round of trade negotiations and support for a trade capacity-building support program that led to the launch of the Doha Development Agenda a few weeks later. .