Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders discuss trade and tensions in Bangkok

APEC meetings are held in the main convention center in downtown Bangkok, which is cordoned off with some streets in the area completely closed to all traffic. Rows of riot police stood guard behind barricades at a major intersection nearby, underscoring Thailand’s determination to ensure the summit remains undisturbed.

“The APEC meeting this year is taking place in the midst of a double jeopardy. We don’t need to be reminded of serious security disputes who don’t know what victory looks like,” Thai foreign minister Don Pramudwinai told a meeting of foreign ministers and ministers of government. Commerce who were working on draft statements to be released after the summit.

“Meanwhile, the world is watching hyper inflation married to recession, a broken supply chain and scarcity and climate calamity.”

Apparently alluding to Russia and the recent condemnation of its war on Ukraine, he also said there was a growing “cancellation mentality” that made “any compromise seem impossible”.

Ahead of the summit, Thai officials said they hoped to steer APEC towards long-term solutions in various areas, including climate change, economic disruption and the faltering recovery from the pandemic.

“What we’re going to do is get all economies to agree on a set of goals…climate change mitigation, sustainable trade and investment, conservation of environmental resources and, of course , waste management,” said Cherdchai Chaivaivid, director general of Thailand’s Department of International Economic Affairs.

“This is the first time that APEC has spoken about it. This is the first time that we are going to open a new chapter on how trade, business and investment should be done. »

APEC’s official mission is to promote regional economic integration, which means setting guidelines for the long-term development of a free trade area. Most of its work is technical and progressive, carried out by senior officials and ministers, covering areas such as trade, tourism, forestry, health, food, security, small and medium enterprises and l empowerment of women.

Neither Putin nor Biden

Leaders of the 21 economies on both sides of the Pacific Ocean often take the opportunity to conduct bilateral talks and discuss side deals.

The Latin American contingent comes from Chile, Mexico and Peru. Other members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr. Biden did not show up this year. Mr Putin has avoided international forums where he would be inundated with criticism of the invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Biden will host his granddaughter’s wedding at the White House.

That leaves Chinese leader Mr Xi as the star attendee in Bangkok, where he is also on an official visit to Thailand just after securing a rare third term as leader at a once-held Communist Party congress. every five years.

Mr Biden is ceding ground to China in the race for friends and influence in Southeast Asia by skipping APEC meetings. But US officials say Washington has demonstrated its seriousness in dealing with the region through frequent visits by cabinet members, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other key senior officials.

The war in Ukraine likely remains a thorn in APEC consensus efforts. None of the previous APEC meetings this year have issued statements due to disagreements over whether to mention the conflict.

Like Indonesia, which hosted the G20 summit in Bali this week, and Cambodia, which hosted ASEAN meetings, Thai officials have presented the situation at its best, saying that an agreement on d Other points will allow APEC to move forward despite everything.

Skeptics doubt the meeting will accomplish much.

“This APEC is just a picture opportunity for leaders. Its agenda has attracted much less attention than the ASEAN summit and the G20,” said Virot Ali, a political scientist at Thailand’s Thammasat University.

PA

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