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Singapore APEC Study Centre Seminar on APEC: A Changed Global Landscape, Rising Protectionism, and Directions Ahead

Tuesday, 6 December 2016 – This public seminar featured four panellists - Dr Alan Bollard (APEC), Mr Eduardo Pedrosa (PECC), Dr Malcolm Cook (ISEAS), and Ms Joanne Guo Wei Ling (SBF). Dr Francis Hutchinson, Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Regional Economic Studies Programme at ISEAS, moderated the panel. 

Dr Bollard, the Executive Director of the APEC secretariat, provided an overview of the APEC meetings in Lima, Peru. He highlighted the call from APEC leaders for “Globalization 2.0” with three main characteristics: (i) an inclusive globalization that emphasizes how to manage the distributional effects and how to communicate them better; (ii) a new globalization that shifts the focus from the manufacturing to the larger services sector; (iii) a soft globalization that pays attention to the APEC’s approach of obtaining voluntary consensus. 

Mr Pedrosa, the Secretary General of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, provided a summary of their annual survey of government, business and academic leaders in APEC (reported in The State of the Region 2016-2017). He stressed the bifurcation of views between the advanced and developing economies: those from developing economies were relatively more optimistic about regional trade agreements, whereas those from advanced economies perceived an urgent need to manage anti-trade sentiments. He also highlighted that structural reforms and barriers to data flows were key impediments to services trade, the largest driver of growth in recent times. He concluded by noting that positive views towards APEC nearly doubled in 2014, and has been sustained till present (2016).



Dr Francis Hutchinson, ISEAS Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Regional Economic Studies Programme, moderating the seminar "APEC: A Changed Global Landscape, Rising Protectionism, and Directions Ahead" (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)


Dr Cook, a Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, provided a historical overview of APEC, its membership, and its objectives. He emphasized that APEC did not only serve economic functions, but provided a platform for dialogue over many non-economic issues. He also discussed APEC’s role in the backdrop of evolving strategic relations between China and a Trump-led US. He also highlighted how discussion has centred on having a trading architecture of Asia-Pacific versus East Asian countries.

Ms Guo, Assistant Director of the Singapore Business Federation, provided the perspective of the business community. She highlighted that with the unlikely implementation of the TPP, businesses would look for opportunities in other countries. She conveyed that the business community is hopeful for bilaterals and other regionals that might lead up to a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). She also expressed her hope that the standards proposed in the TPP will live on in one form or another.


Participants at the seminar (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

More than 60 participants attended the Seminar.