The Jakarta Post
As the chair of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ( APEC ) summit in 2013, Indonesia will use the goals made by members almost two decades ago, the 1994 Bogor Declaration, as guidelines toward a more integrated regional economy by 2020.
Foreign Affairs senior official to APEC Yuri O. Thamrin said on Thursday in Jakarta that under the Bogor framework, APEC members would be expected to further strengthen free trade and investment by reducing barriers to ease the flows of goods, services and capital in the region. In addition to this, Indonesia would highlight the achievement of sustainable growth with equity as a goal set for APEC economies, he added.
Bogor Declaration, forged under the Soeharto regime, has been considered as a milestone for APEC to its free-trade mission.
“[Sustainable growth with equity] will generate positive impacts on inclusivity in the region,” Yuri said in his opening remarks during a symposium attended by senior officials from APEC members.
Set up in 1989, APEC now comprises 21 economies in the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for 40 percent of the world’s population, 54 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 44 percent of global trade.
During its chairmanship, Indonesia will host a number of senior officials, ministerial-level meetings in several major cities such as Jakarta, Medan, Manado and Surabaya, throughout next year, to peak at the APEC annual summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Oct. 7-8 next year.
Rizal Affandi Lukman, a deputy to the coordinating economic minister for international economic and financial cooperation, said that APEC countries had attained tremendous progress as envisioned in the Bogor Declaration.
This included the declining tariffs between members who have agreed on opening trade with each other, called most favored nations, from 17 percent in 2002 to 5.8 percent in 2010. Between 2007 and 2010, APEC members managed to reduce transaction costs by 5 percent, or a saving of US$58.7 billion for business, he added.
For years, critics have questioned the role of APEC, because it has no clear and measurable targets. During the APEC Summit in Vladivostok, Russia, in September, leaders embraced a deal to include 54 environmental goods on a list of products subject to import duty reduction by 2015.
This has raised a debate whether it should design a blueprint to guide its integration process until 2020, as seen in ASEAN with its goal of shaping a single economic community, marked by a single market and production base, by 2015.
Trade Ministry’s international trade cooperation Iman Pambagyo opined that while such a blueprint could be helpful, it should still recognize the nature of APEC as a voluntary and non-binding forum.
Instead of focusing on liberalization, members should pay attention to trade and investment facilitation to ensure the benefits went to all stakeholders.