Sunday, September 23, 2012

APEC and national protectionism

The Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation recently issued a list of Environmental goods on which applied tariffs would be 5% or less by 2015. This has been seen as a major step towards trade liberalization in the environment sector that WTO had not been able to achieve. For a detailed discussion see this IELP post by Robert Howse and the comments thereafter.

WTO's DDG Yerxa also hailed the role played by APEC in recent times to promote the atmosphere of trade liberalization.
"APEC has asserted itself as a premier forum for championing open talks on some of the most recent, pressing and often controversial challenges facing the multilateral trading system. This has made it a forerunner in many areas of interest to the broader WTO membership."
The APEC has some major trading countries like the U.S., China, Russia, Canada, Japan and Australia. The big players missing are the EU and the emerging economies of Brazil, India and South Africa. Is the absence of the emerging economies making it easier for agreements to take place there? Should the APEC Agreements provide a basis for renewed WTO commitments? Will the trend of APEC agreements and commitments provide a boost to less protectionism? China, Indonesia, Russia and U.S. are members to the APEC. However, recent measures by Indonesia, Russia and China do not indicate the move towards trade liberalization. Is the APEC, like Ministerial Conferences, just a forum to espouse the cause of free trade and openness while countries continue to adopt "protectionist" policies to further national interest?

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