Opening up economies
would benefit everyone—APEC
MANILA, Nov. 25 -- When the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was
established 26 years ago, its foundation was laid with the vision of a
region free from protectionism.
In economics, protectionism is the complete opposite of free trade, the
former being the policy of restraining trade between states through a
variety of government regulations, such as tariffs and restrictive quotas,
while the latter is the doctrine where governments reduce as much as
possible the barriers to trade.
Today, as it has been in the two-and-a-half decades of APEC's existence,
there is a broad consensus among member economies that the impact of
protectionism on economic growth and on economic welfare, in general, is
The APEC continues to espouse free and open trade and investment among its
21 member economies, as it remains convinced that protectionism stifles
opportunity and narrows the market because it crushes the energy of the
marketplace that creates new solutions in the first place.
As far as the majority, if not all APEC economies, is concerned, a freer
market creates more opportunity, more growth, more dynamism, and more
The spirit of countering protectionism remains high in the list of
commitments of the APEC, as emphasized in the Leaders' Statement on
Supporting the Multilateral Trading System and the coming 10th World Trade
Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi, Kenya issued at
the conclusion of the 2015 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, hosted by Manila
"We reaffirm our pledges against all forms of protectionism, through our
commitment to a standstill until the end of 2018, and to roll back
protectionist and trade-distorting measures," the APEC Leaders stated.
"We recognize the need to exert further efforts to comply with this
commitment," they added. "We remain committed to exercising maximum
restraint in implementing measures that may be consistent with WTO
provisions but have a significant protectionist effect, and to promptly
rectifying such measures, where implemented."
Basically, this commitment is the biggest variable of success for the spirit
of multilateral trading system going forward in the Asia-Pacific.
At the conclusion of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the heads of member
economies reaffirmed the value, centrality and primacy of this system under
the auspices of the WTO, whose achievements have contributed significantly
to the region's economic dynamism and resiliency in the past 20 years.
"The Asia-Pacific has been one of the fastest-growing trading regions,
benefiting significantly from the stability and predictability of the
multilateral trading system," the APEC Leaders said, vowing to continue to
work closely together to strengthen the rules-based, transparent,
non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system as
embodied in the WTO.
"Within the established framework of the multilateral trading system, we
commit APEC to continuing to support the effectiveness of the WTO and the
further promotion of its objectives for the benefit of all," the ey said.
In this regard, the APEC Leaders endorsed the forthcoming MC10, WTO’s top
level decision-making body, to be held in Nairobi, Kenya. They also declared
their commitment to work together for its success.
As on previous occasions, they pledged to provide the necessary political
impetus during the Nairobi Ministerial Meeting to achieve a balanced set of
outcomes and clear guidance to post-Nairobi work.
"We instruct our Ministers to engage actively and constructively in the
discussions, with the objective of achieving concrete, meaningful, balanced
and development-oriented outcomes," the APEC Leaders said.
They further acknowledged that bilateral, regional and plurilateral trade
agreements can play an important role in complementing global liberalization
"We will continue to work together to ensure that they are consistent with
WTO agreements and contribute to strengthening the multilateral trading
system," the APEC Leaders said. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)