The Jakarta Post
In line with the rapidly changing geopolitical and economic landscape, Asia-Pacific leaders must reaffirm their commitment to open regionalism, regional integration and structural reforms, say members of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC).
At the end of their two-day 21st General Meeting or Canada-Asia 2013 Conference in Vancouver, Canada, from June 4-5, the PECC issued an important statement in which it asked all members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to renew their commitment toward an open and integrated Asia-Pacific region.
'We believe that with continued, determined efforts to reduce barriers and strengthen integration through open regionalism, Asia-Pacific economies can continue to grow substantially above the global average, helping to uplift the global economy,' the PECC said in the statement titled 'PECC Vancouver Statement', a copy of which was made available to The Jakarta Post.
As economic powerhouses the US and the European Union (EU) are still struggling to overcome the effects of their worst financial crisis, Asian economies, based on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast, are expected to grow 5.7 percent this year. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in April that Asian economies were poised to grow 6.6 percent in 2013, outperforming all regional economies.
The present global economy, according to PECC, emphasizes the need to strengthen regional cooperation.
'Global circumstances have changed enormously in the last few years and through this Vancouver Statement, we are demonstrating our commitment to deepening regional cooperation for more equitable and inclusive growth across the region,' said PECC co-chair Jusuf Wanandi
Reforms are key elements in boosting economic growth.
'PECC believes that it is urgent for the APEC economies and our leaders to reaffirm their commitment to open regionalism, regional integration, and structural reforms as means to increase efficiency and growth,' the statement said.
The PECC said that it strongly 'supports APEC leadership for reinvigorating the World Trade Organization and the Group of 20'. Indonesia is currently chairing the APEC and will host a summit meeting in Bali later this year.
As a result of the deadlock at the Doha Round negotiations, APEC members are pursuing to establish two different regional groups ' Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ' which may threaten the APEC agenda.
'We are now facing a big dilemma, to join TPP or RCEP. These two should not become rival blocks,' Jusuf, who is also the co-founder and vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said recently in Jakarta.