Sunday, November 14, 2010

APEC Yokohama - Day Two

Okay, it's done.

We get a restatement (The Yokohama Vision) of the goals that haven't been met (The Bogor Goals) with an extended timeline. Goalpost-moving at its finest.

The side meetings had a few more interesting pieces. The big show of the USA-Russia meeting between Presidents Obama and Medvedev has produced the soundbite of the promise that the NewSTART treaty will go before the US Senate in the lame duck session, so that pretty much confirms that the Obama administration is in deep denial as to its current mandate (or lack thereof). But in smaller meetings, some good things did get done of the sort that APEC (and the old G-7 meetings) were pretty good for... invitations to heads of state to visit other member nations are almost always a good thing but are especially good between old foes.

Whether the FTAAP (Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific) really turns into something do-able remains to be seen, but the preliminaries of the TPP (TransPacific Partnership) are promising. Still, APEC finds itself once again wedged between the offical "rounds" of the WTO and the regional agreements like ASEAN's East Asia economic plans. Duplication of effort, or a re-enforcement of the movement? Hard to tell right now. Sadly, the history of APEC says consider what you see an illusion of something actually happening.

APEC. Gareth Evans once called it "four adjectives in search of a noun". More accurately, I propose, is that it is in search of a meaningful effect.


Side note: as always, the real thanks need go to the staffers; the "sherpas" of G-8 meetings fame. They get everything they can done before the leaders meet, and more importantly they realize what isn't going to get done and take it off the agenda. But from this outsider's view, APEC Yokohama went as well as probably could be expected. Take a bow, fellows. Most of you put your bosses to shame.


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