It is equally important to note the lasting impact that APEC 2010 will have on Japan. We used this opportunity as a starting point for further liberalization of our own economy.

In November 2010, APEC Leaders articulated “The Yokohama vision – Bogor and Beyond” providing a roadmap for member economies to realize the collective vision of an economically-integrated, robust and secure APEC community.

Japan – as host economy for APEC in 2010 – has led in the development of the vision, and hosted a myriad of meetings to advance the priorities of the year.

In an interview at the conclusion of the 18th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting held in Yokohama, Japan, Mr. Hidehiko Nishiyama and Ambassador Shigeru Nakamura, Chairs of the Senior Officials’ Meeting for APEC Japan 2010, reflect on the outcomes of the past year.

APEC Bulletin: What are the key outcomes for APEC Japan 2010 and why are they important for APEC member economies and the rest of the region?

NAKAMURA: At the conclusion of the Leaders’ Meeting, the Leaders’ Declaration, “The Yokohama Vision – Bogor and Beyond,” was formally adopted and is representative of the accomplishments of APEC Japan 2010. These accomplishments represent the future vision for the Asia-Pacific region taking into account numerous changes surrounding the region that were little anticipated at the time of APEC’s foundation. The Declaration focuses on the future of the Asia-Pacific region through three elements of economic activity that we emphasized this year: regional economic integration, growth strategy, and human security – all of which are supported by economic and technical cooperation. Leaders also endorsed the APEC Leaders’ Growth Strategy, and agreed to take concrete steps towards realizing a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

The outcomes of the APEC 2010’s Leaders’ Meeting can broadly impact economies in the Asia-Pacific and around the world. Collectively, these economies continue to act as an engine for global economic growth, meaning the broad impact of APEC’s activities can be felt around the world, which adds increased importance to APEC’s decisions and achievements. 

APEC Bulletin: Why does the Asia-Pacific region bear a heavy responsibility in leading economic global growth and how should APEC promote further it?

NISHIYAMA: It is obvious that the APEC region has become the world’s growth center. The region’s GDP, in purchasing power parity terms, has more than tripled from USD11.8 trillion in 1989 to USD40.5 in 2007, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.1 percent, resulting in an increase in APEC’s share of world GDP from 47 percent in 1989 to 56 percent in 2007. There is no doubt that APEC should have great responsibility for the future course of the global economy beyond the region.

One thing we should not overlook is that we are facing new challenges, such as energy and environmental constraints, human security concerns, the necessity of constant innovation, and economic performance and opportunity disparities within and across economies. In order to respond to such a changing economic environment, this year APEC Leaders set forth the APEC Leaders’ Growth Strategy in Yokohama as APEC’s first substantial effort to provide a comprehensive long-term framework. The strategy illustrates that “quality of growth” needs to be improved so that regional growth will be more balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and secure.

I think that the Growth Strategy provides APEC with clear guidance to achieve further growth by developing and implementing action plans in areas such as structural reform; human resource and entrepreneurship development; green growth; a knowledge-based economy; and human security.

I also see the value of specific resolutions that our Leaders made to achieve high-quality growth in their declaration in Yokohama. A few examples of their decisions were: to undertake demonstrable and significant structural reform; to create more business opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises; to implement policies to create new green jobs, technologies, and industries; and to accelerate our innovative growth by enhancing ICT utilization. I believe that through individual and collective efforts by APEC members in line with these agreements, APEC’s achievement of “quality of growth” will be further ensured. 

APEC Bulletin: In what ways can APEC be an “incubator” of an FTAAP?

NISHIYAMA: Instructed by the Leaders in 2009 to explore a range of possible pathways to achieve an FTAAP, Senior Officials this year seized the moment to further deepen the discussions on what FTAAP should be and what APEC should accomplish on this front. As a result, the Leaders agreed in Yokohama that now is the time for APEC to translate FTAAP from an aspirational to a more concrete vision. In particular, Leaders reached a common view that an FTAAP should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement by developing and building on ongoing regional undertakings, such as ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among others.

To answer the question of what APEC should do specifically to pursue an FTAAP, Leaders agreed that APEC would make an important and meaningful contribution as an “incubator” of an FTAAP by providing leadership and intellectual input into the process of its development, and by playing a critical role in defining, shaping, and addressing the “next generation” trade and investment issues that an FTAAP should contain. Leaders also agreed that APEC should contribute to the pursuit of an FTAAP by continuing and further developing its work on sectoral initiatives in such areas as investment; services; e-commerce; rules of origin; standards and conformance; trade facilitation; and environmental goods and services.

In my view, APEC can work as an incubator of an FTAAP by taking advantage of its uniqueness, including its ability to obtain timely input from business on trade and investment issues and to tap into well-developed experts’ networks. Continuing our work on FTAAP, including on next generation issues, will be a very important task that we should undertake in 2011 and beyond, in order to further advance regional economic integration.

APEC Bulletin: What can economies learn from Japan 2010 and what advice do you have for the next host?

NAKAMURA: Chairing APEC is a continuous learning process requiring that we recognize and appreciate that the future will bring unique challenges and opportunities to Asia-Pacific economies. While it might be presumptuous to offer specific advice to APEC members that will act as future hosts, it will be incumbent upon future APEC chairs to coordinate with other economies in the region and utilize APEC’s vast network of resources to address these issues. Additionally, I believe it is important for a host economy to include its citizens in the APEC process in addition to utilizing our solid, institutional ties with the business community. We went to great lengths to involve many communities throughout Japan in APEC’s meetings this year. Consequently, all of Japan had a stake in APEC 2010 and it was these collective efforts that helped to make it such a tremendous success for Japan. I would like to emphasize our collaboration with municipal governments to organize meetings and welcome guests from APEC economies.

APEC Bulletin: What is the lasting impact of Japan’s contribution to APEC in 2010?

NAKAMURA: It is my hope that in the future, the Yokohama Vision will be regarded as a major milestone in APEC’s movement. In Yokohama, we also found that there was strong support for the formulation of a comprehensive and long-term Growth Strategy against the backdrop of APEC economies’ continuing recovery from the global financial crisis. 

It is equally important to note the lasting impact that APEC 2010 will have on Japan.  We used this opportunity as a starting point for further liberalization of our own economy. Prime Minister Kan introduced the basic policy on comprehensive economic partnerships prior to the Leaders’ Meeting, which demonstrated Japan’s intent to assertively contribute to the formulation of the FTAAP. I believe that chairing APEC will act as a catalyst for creating a more open and robust Japanese economy that can act as a catalyst for broader regional trade liberalization.