Opinion

Peru prepares to host APEC Summit 2016

W. Alejandro Sanchez

The event is just months away, and big names have already RSVP’d. So what’s in store for Peru this November?

Peru prepares to host APEC Summit 2016

Second Vice-President Mercedes Araoz, left, and PPK, center (Photo: Presedencia Peru/ El Comercio)

Peru will host the 2016 Economic Leaders’ Meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The meeting will take place in Lima on November 17-19. Peru is no stranger to the APEC meetings as it already hosted the 2008 summit.

This year’s meeting is significant for two reasons: first, this will be a great opportunity for new Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to meet with leaders from the Asia Pacific, a critically important region for Peruvian trade and foreign policy. Additionally, U.S. President Barack Obama is in his last months in office (the U.S. will hold elections in November 2016 and the new president will be inaugurated in January 2017). Hence this will probably be his last tour of Latin America as head of state.

In order to prepare for the high level meeting, the Kuczynski administration has established an Extraordinary High-Level Commission, to be chaired by second Vice-President Mercedes Araoz. The special delegation is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Foreign Trade and Tourism as well as Economy and Finance. According to the Peruvian state news agency Andina, the summit will include some 160 events and 15 thousand delegates. Given the plethora of attendees, including heads of state, it is no surprise that November 17-19 have been declared holidays in Lima and Callao in order to minimize traffic problems.

Peru has a strong interest towards the Asia Pacific as it is a member of the Pacific Alliance, a trade bloc that includes fellow APEC members Chile and Mexico (as well as Colombia). Additionally, the Trans Pacific Partnership, of which Peru is also a member, will create a free trade zone among 12 commercial powerhouses like Australia, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico Singapore and the U.S. Throughout the recent electoral season, then-candidate Mr. Kuczynski promised that he will continue with the trade policies that have helped the Andean country develop in the past decade and a half. Hence it is important for the new head of state to establish personal friendships with the leaders of nations that have vital trade ties with Peru.

It is worth noting that the APEC holds a series of high-level meetings that take place over the course of several months, culminating with the meeting of heads of state. In May, Arequipa hosted a meeting of APEC ministers responsible for trade, while the APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Working Group met in Lima in early September. On 14-16 November, almost parallel to the heads of state summit, there will be the IV meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

One outcome of the meeting will probably be greater economic relations between Peru and China. The two governments will reportedly sign a memorandum of understanding to promote economic cooperation after the summit. Even more, President Kuczynski’s first trip abroad was to China, after which he traveled to the U.S. to attend a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The mini-tour took place September 10-22. Visiting these two global powerhouses provided a preliminary idea of the new administration’s foreign policy goals.

One of the Peruvian government’s objectives for the summit itself will be to attract international attention to both the country’s legal forestry sector as well as to place combating illegal logging, a major problem for the Andean country, in the spotlight. To this end, the 10th meeting by APEC experts on illegal logging (EGILAT) already took place in mid August.

APEC has 21 members, including global economic and military powers like the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and the United States. Apart from Peru, the only other two Latin American member states are Chile and Mexico. The organization was created in 1989 and Peru became a member in 1998.

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