APEC summit leaders unite over WTO, not over Gaza
Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia say they are among the APEC members who supported the messages of the Riyadh summit.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit concluded with a resounding call for a new era of investment, economic growth, and enhanced energy access in the region, as articulated in the leaders' final declaration paper obtained by Sputnik.
Pacific Rim leaders have shown divisions over the wars in Ukraine and Gaza after a two-day summit of the APEC Forum while pledging support for reform of the World Trade Organization.
On the war on Gaza, an APEC chair’s statement noted the bloc had merely “exchanged views on the ongoing crisis."
“Some leaders objected to the inclusion of this language in the accompanying 2023 Apec leaders’ Golden Gate Declaration on the basis that they do not believe that Apec is a forum to discuss geopolitical issues,” the chair’s statement said.
“Some leaders also shared the united messages of the joint Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh on 11 November 2023.”
Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia in a joint statement said they were among the APEC members who supported the messages of the Riyadh summit, which had called for an immediate end to military operations in Gaza, rejecting "Israel’s" justification of its aggression on Palestinians as "self-defense".
The three countries also called for an “immediate, durable and sustained” humanitarian truce, and for the unhindered provision of essential goods and services to civilians in Gaza.
On the economic front, the heads of delegations emphasized their commitment to unleashing a new wave of decent jobs, investment, and economic prosperity, aiming to ensure energy security, sustainability, and accessibility throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The declaration, a result of collaborative efforts during the summit held in San Francisco from November 11 to 17, highlights the shared vision for fostering sustainable development.
Commitment to open markets and supply chain resilience
The delegation heads at the APEC summit reaffirmed their dedication to maintaining open markets and addressing supply chain disruptions.
"We [sic] reaffirm our commitment to keep markets open and address supply chain disruptions, including by working to support our businesses in building secure, effective, resilient, sustainable, and open supply chains that create a predictable, competitive, and digitally interconnected Asia-Pacific region," the document read.
The document emphasized the importance of recognizing the unique needs and interests of all stakeholders to promote more inclusive and sustainable policies.
"By recognizing the unique needs and interests of all stakeholders, we can work towards more inclusive and sustainable policies that ensure our trade and investment equitably benefits all our people and economies."
Furthermore, the APEC leaders highlighted that effective policies must cater the to different economies and peoples of the APEC member states.
"We emphasized that effective policies require, above all, responsiveness to all our people and economies."
Additionally, the heads of delegations at the APEC summit expressed support for a free and fair trade and investment environment.
"We reaffirm our determination to deliver a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, inclusive, and predictable trade and investment environment."
Multilateral trading system and WTO reform
Moreover, the APEC delegates reaffirmed the importance of the multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core.
"We also reaffirm the importance of the rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, which continues to catalyze our region’s extraordinary growth."
The document noted that the APEC member states are willing to reform the WTO to develop a dispute-settlement mechanism.
"We are committed to necessary reform of the WTO to improve all of its functions, including conducting discussions with a view to having a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all members by 2024."
Utilizing technological progress for regional potential
APEC delegates also emphasized the imperative of employing technological and economic progress to unlock the vast potential of the Asia-Pacific region.
"We must harness technological and economic progress to continue to unleash the enormous potential and tremendous dynamism across our region, spur economic growth, as well as to address all environmental challenges, including climate change."
APEC is a trade and economic forum of 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People's Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; the Philippines; the Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; the United States of America; Vietnam.
This year's summit in San Francisco, California, was held November 11–17.