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2012 APEC meeting in Russia: a success for Australia


The 2012 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit was held on 8–9 September in Vladivostok, the Russian Far East. Russia hosted 21 member countries at the summit and in various side events throughout 2012, which attracted over 10 000 visitors in total. The preparation costs for 2012 APEC were estimated to be A$21 billion. By comparison, the Australian Government spent just over $300 million hosting the 2007 APEC summit in Sydney, of which over $170 million was invested in enhanced security.

APEC economies account for 44 per cent of world trade and 56 per cent of global economic output ($39 trillion in 2011), and comprise a total of 2.7 billion people. Major areas under 2012 APEC summit discussion included: ongoing negotiations towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, next generation trade and investment issues, education, food security, innovation and supply chains, and environmental goods. One landmark decision was an agreement to cut tariffs from as much as 35 per cent to 5 per cent or less by 2015 on selected environmental goods. The Leaders’ declaration includes the list of environmental goods, such as solar panels, gas turbines and industrial machinery. 
 
The leaders backed an ambitious proposal to enhance regional student mobility in the education sector, which is Australia’s third largest export. The leaders also committed to enhance regional efforts to combat trafficking in illegal wildlife. A new public-private dialogue was also promoted to help in advancing the role of women in the economy, which, it is believed, would positively impact on the region’s recovery efforts. 
 
The Federal Minister for Trade, Dr Craig Emerson, hailed the 2012 APEC meeting as a success. Australia helped in brokering the deal on tariff cuts, which, according to Trade Minister Emerson, ‘opens up tremendous opportunities for Australian producers’. He wrote that ‘Australia can be proud of co-founding APEC. It is proving the workhorse of regional integration as we seek to seize the opportunities of the Asian Century’. He added that the deal on university education and student mobility is ‘about the cultural understanding, the great opportunities that kids have and never forget for the rest of their lives, to be able to study in each other’s universities and know each other’s countries’. 
 
Dr Christopher Ziguras from RMIT University noted that the declaration reinforced the growing strategic shift in Australian government policy towards viewing the region as a place for Australian students to travel and study in, rather than just as a lucrative source of international students.
 
The APEC Economic Policy Report is available here. Documents relating to the 2012 APEC summit and further resources on the Pacific Rim from the Russian Presidential Library are available here. The 2013 APEC summit will be hosted by the Indonesian Government in Bali.