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Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim countries (formally Member Economies) that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world; to fears that highly industrialized Japan (a member of G8) would come to dominate economic activity in the Asia-Pacific region; and to establish new markets for agricultural products and raw materials beyond Europe (where demand had been declining). APEC works to raise living standards and education levels through sustainable economic growth and to foster a sense of community and an appreciation of shared interests among Asia-Pacific countries. APEC includes newly industrialized economies, although the agenda of free trade was a sensitive issue for the developing NIEs at the time APEC founded, and aims to enable ASEAN economies to explore new export market opportunities for natural resources such as natural gas, as well as to seek regional economic integration (industrial integration) by means of foreign direct investment. Members account for approximately 40% of the world's population, approximately 54% of the world's gross domestic product and about 44% of world trade. For APEC Economic Trends Analysis in 2012, see. An annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting is attended by the heads of government of all APEC members except the Republic of China (who is represented by a ministerial-level official under the name Chinese Taipei). The location of the meeting rotates annually among the member economies, and until 2011, a famous tradition involved the attending leaders dressing in a national costume of the host member.

History
In January 1989, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke called for more effective economic cooperation across the Pacific Rim region. This led to the first meeting of APEC in the Australian capital of Canberra in November, chaired by Minister Gareth. Attended by political ministers from twelve countries, the meeting concluded with commitments for future annual meetings in Singapore and South Korea. Countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) opposed the initial proposal, instead proposing the East Asia Economic Caucus which would exclude non-Asian countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This plan was opposed and strongly criticized by Japan and the United States. The first APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting occurred in 1993 when U.S. President Bill Clinton, after discussions with Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, invited the heads of government from member economies to a summit on Blake Island. He believed it would help bring the stalled Uruguay Round of trade talks back on track. At the meeting, some leaders called for continued reduction of barriers to trade and investment, envisioning a community in the Asia-Pacific region that might promote prosperity through cooperation. The APEC Secretariat, based in Singapore, was established to coordinate the activities of the organization. During the meeting in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, APEC leaders adopted the Bogor Goals that aim for free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies. In 1995, APEC established a business advisory body named the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), composed of three business executives from each member economy.

Member economies
APEC currently has 21 members, including most countries with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean. However, the criterion for membership is that the member is a separate economy, rather than a state. As a result, APEC uses the term member economies rather than member countries to refer to its members. One result of this criterion is that membership of the forum includes Taiwan (officially the Republic of China, participating under the name "Chinese Taipei") alongside People's Republic of China (see Cross-Strait relations), as well as Hong Kong, which entered APEC as a British colony but it is now a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. APEC also includes three official observers: ASEAN, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council.

Member economy (name as used in APEC)

Date of accession

Australia

1989

Hong Kong, China

1991

Brunei

1989

People's Republic of China

1991

Canada

1989

Mexico

1993

Indonesia

1989

Papua New Guinea

1993

Japan

1989

Chile

1994

Republic of Korea

1989

Peru

1998

Malaysia

1989

Russia

1998

New Zealand

1989

Vietnam

1998

Philippines

1989

Chinese Taipei (Republic of China)

1991

Singapore

1989

United States

1989

Thailand

1989

APEC's Three Pillars


To meet the Bogor Goals, APEC carries out work in three main areas: 1. Trade and Investment Liberalisation 2. Business Facilitation 3. Economic and Technical Cooperation

APEC and Trade Liberalisation

According to the organization itself, when APEC was established in 1989 average trade barriers in the region stood at 16.9 percent, but had been reduced to 5.5% in 2004.

APEC's Business Facilitation Efforts

APEC has long been at the forefront of reform efforts in the area of business facilitation. Between 2002 and 2006 the costs of business transactions across the region was reduced by 6%, thanks to the APEC Trade

Facilitation Action Plan (TFAPI). Between 2007 and 2010, APEC hopes to achieve an additional 5% reduction in business transaction costs. To this end, a new Trade Facilitation Action Plan has been endorsed. According to a 2008 research brief published by the World Bank as part of its Trade Costs and Facilitation Project, increasing transparency in the region's trading system is critical if APEC is to meet its Bogor Goal targets. The APEC Business Travel Card, a travel document for visa-free business travel within the region is one of the concrete measures to facilitate business. In May 2010 Russia joined the scheme, thus completing the circle.

APEC Study Center Consortium

In 1993, APEC Leaders decided to establish a network of APEC Study Centres among universities and research institutions in member economies.[24] Notable centers include:

Australian APEC Study Centre, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia Berkeley APEC Study Center, University of California, Berkeley, United States Chinese Taipei APEC Study Center, Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, Taiwan HKU APEC Study Center, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong, China Kobe APEC Study Center, Kobe University, Japan Nankai APEC Study Center, Nankai University, China Philippine APEC Study Center Network, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Philippines The Canadian APEC Study Centre, The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Vancouver, Canada Indonesian APEC Study Centre, APEC Study Center University of Indonesia, Indonesia.

APEC Business Advisory Council


The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) was created by the APEC Economic Leaders in November 1995 with the aim of providing advice to the APEC Economic Leaders on ways to achieve the Bogor Goals and other specific business sector priorities, and to provide the business perspective on specific areas of cooperation. Each economy nominates up to three members from the private sector to ABAC. These business leaders represent a wide range of industry sectors. ABAC provides an annual report to APEC Economic Leaders containing recommendations to improve the business and investment environment in the Asia-Pacific region, and outlining business views about priority regional issues. ABAC is also the only non-governmental organisation that is on the official agenda of the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting.

Criticism
APEC has been criticized for promoting free trade agreements that would trammel national and local laws, which regulate and ensure labor rights, environmental protection and safe and affordable access to medicine. According to the organization, it is "the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region" established to "further enhance economic growth and prosperity for the region and to strengthen the Asia-Pacific community". However, whether it has accomplished anything constructive remains debatable, especially from the viewpoints of European countries that cannot take part in APEC and Pacific Island nations that cannot participate but will suffer its consequences.

World Trade Organization


The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. The organization deals with regulation of trade between participating countries; it provides a framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements, and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments. Most of the issues that the WTO focuses on derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay Round (1986 1994). The organization is attempting to complete negotiations on the Doha Development Round, which was launched in 2001 with an explicit focus on addressing the needs of developing countries. As of June 2012, the future of the Doha Round remains uncertain: the work programme lists 21 subjects in which the original deadline of 1 January 2005 was missed, and the round is still incomplete. The conflict between free trade on industrial goods and services but retention of protectionism on farm subsidies to domestic agricultural sector (requested by developed countries) and the substantiation of the international liberalization of fair trade on agricultural products (requested by developing countries) remain the major obstacles. These points of contention have hindered any progress to launch new WTO negotiations beyond the Doha Development Round. As a result of this impasse, there have been an increasing number of bilateral free trade agreements signed. As of July 2012, there are various negotiation groups in the WTO system for the current agricultural trade negotiation which is in the condition of stalemate WTO's current Director-General is Pascal Lamy, who leads a staff of over 600 people in Geneva, Switzerland

History
The WTO's predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was established after World War II in the wake of other new multilateral institutions dedicated to international economic cooperation notably the Bretton Woods institutions known as theWorld Bank and the International Monetary Fund. A comparable international institution for trade, named the International Trade Organization was successfully negotiated. The ITO was to be a United Nations specialized agency and would address not only trade barriers but other issues indirectly related to trade, including employment, investment, restrictive business practices, and commodity agreements. But the ITO treaty was not approved by the U.S. and a few other signatories and never went into effect. In the absence of an international organization for trade, the GATT would over the years "transform itself" into a de facto international organization.

Functions
Among the various functions of the WTO, these are regarded by analysts as the most important:

It oversees the implementation, administration and operation of the covered agreements. It provides a forum for negotiations and for settling disputes.

Additionally, it is the WTO's duty to review and propagate the national trade policies, and to ensure the coherence and transparency of trade policies through surveillance in global economic policy-making.[33][35] Another priority of the WTO is the assistance of developing, least-developed and low-income countries in transition to adjust to WTO rules and disciplines through technical cooperation and training. The WTO is also a center of economic research and analysis: regular assessments of the global trade picture in its annual publications and research reports on specific topics are produced by the organization. Finally, the WTO cooperates closely with the two other components of the Bretton Woods system, the IMF and the World Bank.

Principles of the trading system


The WTO establishes a framework for trade policies; it does not define or specify outcomes. That is, it is concerned with setting the rules of the trade policy games. Five principles are of particular importance in understanding both the pre-1994 GATT and the WTO: 1. Non-discrimination. It has two major components: the most favoured nation (MFN) rule, and the national treatment policy. Both are embedded in the main WTO rules on goods, services, and intellectual property, but their precise scope and nature differ across these areas. The MFN rule requires that a WTO member must apply the same conditions on all trade with other WTO members, i.e. a WTO member has to grant the most favorable conditions under which it allows trade in a certain product type to all other WTO members. "Grant someone a special favour and you have to do the same for all other WTO members." National treatment means that imported goods should be treated no less favorably than

2.

3.

4.

5.

domestically produced goods (at least after the foreign goods have entered the market) and was introduced to tackle non-tariff barriers to trade (e.g. technical standards, security standards et al. discriminating against imported goods). Reciprocity. It reflects both a desire to limit the scope of free-riding that may arise because of the MFN rule, and a desire to obtain better access to foreign markets. A related point is that for a nation to negotiate, it is necessary that the gain from doing so be greater than the gain available from unilateral liberalization; reciprocal concessions intend to ensure that such gains will materialise. Binding and enforceable commitments. The tariff commitments made by WTO members in a multilateral trade negotiation and on accession are enumerated in a schedule (list) of concessions. These schedules establish "ceiling bindings": a country can change its bindings, but only after negotiating with its trading partners, which could mean compensating them for loss of trade. If satisfaction is not obtained, the complaining country may invoke the WTO dispute settlement procedures. Transparency. The WTO members are required to publish their trade regulations, to maintain institutions allowing for the review of administrative decisions affecting trade, to respond to requests for information by other members, and to notify changes in trade policies to the WTO. These internal transparency requirements are supplemented and facilitated by periodic country-specific reports (trade policy reviews) through the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). The WTO system tries also to improve predictability and stability, discouraging the use of quotas and other measures used to set limits on quantities of imports. Safety valves. In specific circumstances, governments are able to restrict trade. The WTOs agreements permit members to take measures to protect not only the environment but also public health, animal health and plant health. articles allowing for the use of trade measures to attain non-economic objectives; articles aimed at ensuring "fair competition"; members must not use environmental protection measures as a means of disguising protectionist policies. provisions permitting intervention in trade for economic reasons.

There are three types of provision in this direction:

Exceptions to the MFN principle also allow for preferential treatment of developing countries, regional free trade areas and customs unions.

Organizational structure
The General Council has the following subsidiary bodies which oversee committees in different areas: Council for Trade in Goods There are 11 committees under the jurisdiction of the Goods Council each with a specific task. All members of the WTO participate in the committees. The Textiles Monitoring Body is separate from the other committees but still under the jurisdiction of Goods Council. The body has its own chairman and only 10 members. The body also has several groups relating to textiles. Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Information on intellectual property in the WTO, news and official records of the activities of the TRIPS Council, and details of the WTO's work with other international organizations in the field. Council for Trade in Services The Council for Trade in Services operates under the guidance of the General Council and is responsible for overseeing the functioning of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). It is open to all WTO members, and can create subsidiary bodies as required. Trade Negotiations Committee The Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) is the committee that deals with the current trade talks round. The chair is WTO's director-general. As of June 2012 the committee was tasked with the Doha Development Round. The Service Council has three subsidiary bodies: financial services, domestic regulations, GATS rules and specific commitments. The General council has several different committees, working groups, and working parties. There are committees on the following: Trade and Environment; Trade and Development (Subcommittee on Least-Developed Countries); Regional Trade Agreements; Balance of Payments Restrictions; and Budget, Finance and Administration. There

are working parties on the following: Accession. There are working groups on the following: Trade, debt and finance; and Trade and technology transfer.

Accession and membership


The process of becoming a WTO member is unique to each applicant country, and the terms of accession are dependent upon the country's stage of economic development and current trade regime. The process takes about five years, on average, but it can last more if the country is less than fully committed to the process or if political issues interfere. The shortest accession negotiation was that of the Kyrgyz Republic, while the longest was that of Russia, which, having first applied to join GATT in 1993, was approved for membership in December 2011 and became a WTO member on August 22, 2012. The second longest was that of Vanuatu, whose Working Party on the Accession of Vanuatu was established on 11 July 1995. After a final meeting of the Working Party in October 2001, Vanuatu requested more time to consider its accession terms. In 2008, it indicated its interest to resume and conclude its WTO accession. The Working Party on the Accession of Vanuatu was reconvened informally on 4 April 2011 to discuss Vanuatus future WTO membership. The re-convened Working Party completed its mandate on 2 May 2011. The General Council formally approved the Accession Package of Vanuatu on 26 October 2011. On 24 August 2012, the WTO welcomed Vanuatu as its 157th member. An offer of accession is only given once consensus is reached among interested parties.

Accession process
A country wishing to accede to the WTO submits an application to the General Council, and has to describe all aspects of its trade and economic policies that have a bearing on WTO agreements. The application is submitted to the WTO in a memorandum which is examined by a working party open to all interested WTO Members. After all necessary background information has been acquired; the working party focuses on issues of discrepancy between the WTO rules and the applicant's international and domestic trade policies and laws. The working party determines the terms and conditions of entry into the WTO for the applicant nation, and may consider transitional periods to allow countries some leeway in complying with the WTO rules. The final phase of accession involves bilateral negotiations between the applicant nation and other working party members regarding the concessions and commitments on tariff levels and market access for goods and services. The new member's commitments are to apply equally to all WTO members under normal non-discrimination rules, even though they are negotiated bilaterally. When the bilateral talks conclude, the working party sends to the general council or ministerial conference an accession package, which includes a summary of all the working party meetings, the Protocol of Accession (a draft membership treaty), and lists ("schedules") of the member-to-be's commitments. Once the general council or ministerial conference approves of the terms of accession, the applicant's parliament must ratify the Protocol of Accession before it can become a member.

Members and observers


The WTO has 159 members and 25 observer governments. In addition to states, the European Union is a member. WTO members do not have to be full sovereign nation-members. Instead, they must be a customs territory with full autonomy in the conduct of their external commercial relations. Thus Hong Kong Special Administrative region (as "Hong Kong, China" since 1997) became a GATT contracting party, follow by was the "China" (Mainland China, not include Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong) joining at 2001 for after 15 years of negotiations, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) acceded to the WTO in 2002 as "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan,Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu" (Chinese Taipei) despite its disputed status. The WTO Secretariat omits the official titles (such as Counselor, First Secretary, Second Secretary and Third Secretary) of the members of Chinese Taipei's Permanent Mission to the WTO, except for the titles of the Permanent Representative and the Deputy Permanent Representative. Iran is the biggest economy outside the WTO. With the exception of the Holy See, observers must start accession negotiations within five years of becoming observers. A number of international intergovernmental organizations have also been granted observer status to WTO bodies. 14 states and two territories so far have no official interaction with the WTO.

General Agreement on Trade in Services


The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is a treaty of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that entered into force in January 1995 as a result of the Uruguay Round negotiations. The treaty was created to extend the multilateral trading system to service sector, in the same way the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) provides such a system for merchandise trade. All members of the WTO are signatories to the GATS. The basic WTO principle of most favoured nation (MFN) applies to GATS as well. However, upon accession, Members may introduce temporary exemptions to this rule.

Historical background
While the overall goal of GATS is to remove barriers to trade, members are free to choose which sectors are to be progressively "liberalised", i.e. marketised and privatised, which mode of supply would apply to a particular sector, and to what extent liberalisation will occur over a given period of time. Members' commitments are governed by a "ratchet effect", meaning that commitments are one-way and are not to be wound back once entered into. The reason for this rule is to create a stable trading climate. However, Article XXI does allow Members to withdraw commitments, and so far two members have exercised this option (USA and EU). In November 2008, Bolivia notified that it will withdraw its health services commitments. Some activist groups consider that GATS risks undermining the ability and authority of governments to regulate commercial activities within their own boundaries, with the effect of ceding power to business interests ahead of the interests of citizens. In 2003 theGATSwatch network published a critical statement which was supported by over 500 organisations in 60 countries. At the same time, countries are not under any obligation to enter international agreements such as GATS. For countries that like to attract trade and investment, GATS adds a measure of transparency and legal predictability. Legal obstacles to services trade can have legitimate policy reasons, but can also be an effective tool for large scale corruption (De Soto, Hernando. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.)

Four Modes of Supply


The GATS agreement covers four modes of supply for the delivery of services in cross-border trade: Criteria Supplier Presence

Mode 1: Cross-border Service delivered within the territory of the Member, from supply the territory of another Member Service supplier not present within the territory of the member

Service delivered outside the territory of the Member, in Mode 2: Consumption the territory of another Member, to a service consumer of abroad the Member

Mode 3: Commercial presence

Service delivered within the territory of the Member, through the commercial presence of the supplier

Mode 4: Presence of a Service delivered within the territory of the Member, with natural person supplier present as a natural person

Service supplier present within the territory of the Member

Sectors addressed
Services Sector Classifications addressed in the GATS are defined in the so-called "W/120 list", which provides a list of all sectors which can be negotiated under the GATS. The title refers to the name of the official WTO document, MTN.GNS/W/120.

Criticisms
The GATS agreement has been criticized for tending to substitute the authority of national legislation and judiciary with that of a GATS Disputes Panel conducting closed hearings. WTO membergovernment spokespersons are obliged to dismiss such criticism because of prior commitment to perceived benefits of prevailing commercial principles of competition and 'liberalisation'. While national governments have the option to exclude any specific service from liberalisation under GATS, they are also under pressure from international business interests to refrain from excluding any service "provided on a commercial basis". Important public utilities such as water and electricity most commonly involve purchase by consumers and are thus demonstrably "provided on a commercial basis". The same may be said of many health and education services which are sought to be 'exported' by some countries as profitable industries. This definition defines virtually any public service as being "provided on a commercial basis" and is already extending into such areas as police, the military, prisons, the justice system, public administration, and government. Over a fairly short time perspective, this could open up for the privatisation or marketisation of large parts, and possibly all, of what today are considered public servicescurrently available for the whole population of a country as a social entitlement, to be restructured, marketised, contracted out to for-profit providers, and eventually fully privatised and available only to those who can pay for them. This process is currently far advanced in most countries, usually (and intentionally) without properly informing or consulting the public as to whether or not this is what they desire.