The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is an intergovernmental forum which brings together 21 of the world’s economies from the region to collaborate toward the common goal of creating a more open, resilient, sustainable, and peaceful future for all people in one of the world’s most dynamic regions. This year the United States is hosting the event and its government will lead in addressing issues including climate change, economic inclusion, and digital transformation.
This year’s APEC Leaders’ and CEO Summit USA 2023 will take place over the course of two days from November 14th to the 16th in San Francisco. This summit is one of the most influential business and governmental meetings concerning the Asia-Pacific. It permits important discussions between CEOs, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, key stakeholders, and world leaders from the Asia-Pacific region. This Summit will foster dialogue on global opportunities and challenges that dictate economic, environmental, and societal trends in the region. This year there will be an emphasis on potential avenues for collaboration and fresh ideas–under the theme, “Creating Economic Opportunity”–that will contribute to future growth while improving sustainability, inclusion, resilience, and innovation.
The roster of APEC leaders invited to speak will include presidents of the United States, China, Indonesia, Korea, Chile, Peru, Vietnam and the Philippines, and the prime ministers of Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
The Summit will be co-chaired, by Kevin Ali (CEO of Organon), Mary Barra (CEO of General Motors) and Alfre F. Kelly Jr. (Executive Chairman of Visa).
The first day of the summit will have two main focusses titled: “Conversations on Sustainability” and “Conversations on Inclusion”. The first will invite the various experts and stakeholders to explore sustainability-related topics including a just energy transition, alternative/renewable energy, climate change adaptation and mitigation, sustainable finance, and sustainable trade policy. The second conversation on inclusion will touch on topics such as, broadening access to economic opportunities, nurturing small businesses and entrepreneurs, and expanding opportunities for education and training.
The second day will revolve around “Conversations on Resilience” and “Conversations on Innovation”. The first session will highlight climate-smart infrastructure development, partnerships for disaster and recovery, and strengthening social safety nets. The conversation on innovation will touch on harnessing the power of human creativity, entrepreneurial energy, and technology to foster growth, building, and supporting “innovation incubators”, promoting start-ups and entrepreneurship, and finally, AI and the impact of new technologies on business and society.
While these events are based on the preliminary program draft for the Summit, the program is expected to evolve as events develop leading up to November 14th.
While China will be in attendance, the recent move by the US to block Hong Kong’s chief executive officer, John Lee, from attending under pressure of the Xi government has created a notable rift in the delicate bilateral relationship between China and the US. Notably, US actions only apply to Hong Kong’s chief executive, and a select few other officials who are facing sanctions for imposing security laws that targeted pro-democracy leaders. Thus, this does not bar Hong Kong from attending which would be against APEC rules, as no country has the power to bar another APEC member from attending. Putin who also faces sanctions, due to his war on Ukraine, has an arrest warrant awaiting him should he enter the US, so it is unlikely that Russia will attend.
Experts have suggested, however, that the effort to block Hong Kong’s chief executive might influence China to pass on this Summit altogether notwithstanding that a Biden-Xi meeting had been anticipated. In contrast, some argue that China will attend given its more recent signs of the weakening of the Chinese economy. China will seek, therefore, to stabilize its relationship with the US and maintain the confidence of foreign investors.
Given the current environmental and economic crises facing the international system, the cooperation of these two leading nations is ever more pressing. The hope is that despite political tensions that have arisen, both the US and China have strong reasons for leaders to meet at this year’s APEC.
Nakashima, E., & Mahtani, S. (2023, July 28). Biden, testing XI, will bar Hong Kong’s leader from Economic Summit. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/07/27/hong-kong-john-lee-apec/