|Building on Past Achievements to Make New Progress And Shaping the Future Through Asia-Pacific Partnership|
Remarks by H.E. Wang Yi
Beijing, 10 December 2013
Let me begin by welcoming you all to the APEC Informal Senior Officials' Meeting (ISOM) on behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Although it is cold winter outside, I find a warm atmosphere here in this room. From your high spirits, I can tell that this meeting has been a great success.
Today, you have had thorough discussion and reached much consensus on the theme China proposed for this meeting - Shaping the Future Through Asia-Pacific Partnership - and on major topics such as advancing regional economic integration, promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth, and enhancing comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development. Your discussion and consensus will provide important intellectual support and lay a solid foundation of cooperation for next year's APEC meetings. Your insightful contributions are the biggest support to China as host of next year's meetings.
My colleagues told me that some friends mentioned in today's discussion that 2014 would mark the 25th anniversary of APEC. The Chinese people have a tradition of celebrating quinquennial and decennial anniversaries, as every five or ten years is an important time slot for a person and a mechanism alike. It represents not just growth and hope, but also responsibility and commitment. The same can be said about the evolution of APEC.
Twenty-five years ago, APEC was established in response to the new developments as a landmark in economic cooperation of the Asia-Pacific region. Few people then would have imagined that the big APEC family would go on to make such remarkable achievements and fulfill so many dreams in 25 years.
Over the past 25 years, APEC has pursued its many visions with the Bogor Goals at the heart. It was the first to set out the ambitious goal of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. It has pushed for a list of environmental goods. It has been engaged in cooperation on global value chain and supply chain. These efforts have greatly boosted trade and investment liberalization and facilitation in the Asia-Pacific and advanced regional integration.
Over the past 25 years, APEC has been committed to economic and technical cooperation with a focus on the actual needs of its developing members. It has pooled the efforts of both developed and developing members to advance economic and technical cooperation in tandem with trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, thus enhancing the trade and development capabilities of its members, developing ones in particular, and narrowing development gap.
Over the past 25 years, APEC has developed an economic growth strategy which enabled the Asia-Pacific to act as an engine for the global economy and feature more prominently in the global political and economic landscape. APEC has promoted economic structural reform and raised the efficiency of the public sector. It has worked on small details to bring about big changes of economic transformation and reform. It has facilitated the efforts of Asia-Pacific economies to pursue transformation and growth at the same time.
A review of APEC's 25 years of development shows that APEC has turned its visions into reality and brought all of us together. The Pacific Ocean, which used to separate us with its daunting distance, is now a bond connecting Asia, Latin America, Pacific island countries and North America, making us all neighbors joined by this body of water.
A review of APEC's 25 years of development also shows that the concepts of voluntarism, consensus, openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation as championed by APEC have now taken hold. Members enjoy deepening trust and closer exchanges. The concept of open regionalism is gaining greater relevance and the Asia-Pacific is heading for a brighter future.
A review of APEC's 25 years of development demonstrates APEC's unswerving commitment to its founding purpose of promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation as well as APEC's staunch support for the multilateral trading regime. APEC gave a strong boost to the conclusion of the Uruguay Round. And now, it is rooting for an early conclusion of the Doha Round.
A review of APEC's 25 years of development shows that APEC has created a better life for the 2.8 billion people of its 21 members, making it easier for people to share products, services and the enormous benefits of rapid scientific and technological progress. Today, the cake of Asia-Pacific cooperation has become bigger, bringing people ever closer to each other.
That being said, APEC cooperation is confronted with certain challenges. In recent years, G20 and other international economic cooperation mechanisms have emerged one after another. They are playing a major role in macroeconomic policy coordination, advancing reform of global economic governance mechanisms and tackling the international financial crisis. In comparison, despite the rising strength and influence of APEC members, the stature and role of APEC itself, as some believe, have somewhat declined. In addition, over the same period, this region has also witnessed explosive growth of bilateral, multilateral, regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms. When APEC was first established, there were only three cooperation fora and three FTAs in the Asia-Pacific. Currently, there are 25 cooperation mechanisms and 56 FTAs. As a result, APEC members face a "dilemma of options" when it comes to the direction and focus of cooperation. Trends towards integration and fragmentation are both on the rise.
At this important juncture 25 years after APEC's inception, China, being the host again after 13 years, is deeply aware of its heavy responsibility. How to reinvigorate APEC and make progress in the Asia-Pacific integration process? How to use APEC as a bridge and link to form synergy among the free trade arrangements in this region by following the principles of openness and inclusiveness? How to uphold and improve the multilateral trading regime which benefits all parties? These are questions that have long been on everyone's mind. China stands ready to work with all other members to explore APEC's mission in a new era and meet our common goals.
It is in the above-mentioned context that China has proposed the theme of "Shaping the Future Through Asia-Pacific Partnership" for APEC meeting next year. We hope to forge a closer partnership across the Pacific Ocean to jointly meet challenges and achieve long-term development in the Asia-Pacific. In 2014, APEC needs to focus on three things. First, it needs to work relentlessly for the economic integration of the Asia-Pacific. We need to uphold the principles of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, fully respect and draw on the experience of existing free trade arrangements, pool our strength and take regional economic integration to a higher level on the basis of the Bogor Goals. Second, APEC needs to provide a strong driving force for economic growth in the region. We need to seek new areas and sources of growth through innovation, build an open growth model through reform, accumulate resources for innovation and win more time for reform through growth and address issues that come up in the course of development. Third, APEC needs to pave the way for Asia-Pacific connectivity. China appreciates Indonesia's inclusion of connectivity as a key topic on the agenda of this year's meeting. And we would continue to pursue this topic next year. With a view to benefiting all APEC members, we will focus on the development of both the hardware and software and the growth of people-to-people and cultural exchanges. And we hope that this will ultimately boost economic development, improve people's lives, ensure the free flow of production factors in the region, drive the development of sub-regional economic corridors and help realize a greater market, greater connectivity and greater development in the Asia-Pacific.
APEC is entering a new phase of development. At this new historical starting point, we need to join hands and enable APEC to play an even greater role. I wish to share with you a few thoughts on APEC's future development.
First, we need to consolidate the basis for our cooperation. Many people have told me that the proudest achievement of APEC is its spirit of Asia-Pacific family and community of common destiny. We have a saying in China, a distant relative is not as helpful as a close neighbor. You may choose your friends, but not your neighbors. The Asia-Pacific is our common homeland where we all belong and grow. We should cherish and take good care of it, focusing our efforts on shaping the future through partnership.
Second, we need to uphold the concept of cooperation. Although the members of APEC come from different regions, we all place great importance on treating others with sincerity and helping each other for win-win outcomes in our respective cultural traditions. All APEC members should be cooperative partners in seeking progress. We should respect and trust each other, honor our commitment and maintain harmonious relations, and offer each other support and assistance in times of need. This should be what the spirit of the APEC family is all about.
Third, we need to work for greater achievements in our cooperation. APEC cooperation should be a common enterprise for us all. We should accommodate the legitimate concerns of others while seeking our own interests and promote common development while pursuing our own development. On the basis of the existing outcomes, we need to strengthen top-level design and overall planning, set out ambitious goals and blueprint for cooperation, and work for new achievements and breakthroughs in APEC cooperation, so as to provide strong driving force for the future growth and common development of the Asia-Pacific region.
Fourth, we need to ensure strong guarantee for our cooperation. We should abide by the principle of harmony without uniformity and the spirit of openness and mutual accommodation in order to turn diversity and differences among APEC members into a cohesive power and a common call for deepening cooperation. We should uphold the APEC spirit of voluntarism and consensus, and stay convinced that the Asia-Pacific is big enough to accommodate the development of all parties.
APEC cooperation in the past 25 years has yielded fruitful results despite various difficulties. Looking ahead, the task remains arduous but the prospect is bright. As the host in 2014, we will build on the progress accumulated through the hard efforts of all APEC members in the past 25 years, work with all the other members to turn challenges into opportunities and build small gains into major accomplishments, and make our due contribution to the sustainable growth, progress and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. I hope that when we meet in the magnificent surroundings of the Great Wall and Yanqi Lake during the golden autumn season next year in Beijing, we will be able to come up with a long list of deliverables and take a new step forward in the pursuit of common development of all Asia-Pacific partners.