MY TWO CENTS’: While ASEAN won, did APEC falter?

The recent ASEAN Summit in Singapore snd Apec gathering in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea reveal contrasting results despite similar objectives.

The ten member Association of Southeast  Asian Nations (ASEAN) which we belong to is slowly but surely transitioning itself from mere talking club to a maturing multilateral body able to focus on common interests and not just air out individual concerns.

The advanced discussions on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, for exanoke,  show a capability to discuss matters of common interest not only between its members, but with itself as a body and its dialogue partners like China and the United States.

We remember a time when ASEAN members were derided as mere appendages of their former colonizers that lorded over world affairs during the cold war and the decades that followed.

The impression then is that many of them, at least, represented these former (mostly western) colonists and their interests, as souhteast asia was a battleground for influence between Soviet and american blocs.

But as neighboring Asian economies like China and Japan rose to economic and political prominence,  the region has emerged as the high growth crossroads of asia,

Recently, ASEAN economic integration drove home the need to attain a deeper prosperity for its members, pushing intercountry economic cooperation and cross border security arrangments against common foes such as terrorists.

We hope that this cooperation can be enhanced further with increased air and sea connectivities and recent programs such as expanding the barter trade in the celebes sea. As these economies grow, opportunity will be more apparent.

With this, old economic relationships are renewed, people to people contacts increased, and opportunity for less affluent areas of each member state to cut poverty enhanced. This will prove especially fruitful for Mindanao, which is the Philippine border to ASEAN.

On the other hand, the Asia Pacific Economic (APEC) summit failed to deliver a common statement given the current trade war between China and the United States.

China reportedly objected to the way the drafts were worded, while the US insists on provisions that may only escalate the trade war further.

APEC is where the west flexes itself. It repesents a wider arena for discussion on matters that affect many member states, particularly the more affluent ones.

As it is a more complicated world where economic plans and outcomes do not necessarily jive and interests have become more localized or regionalized, we hope that higher levels of economic cooperation rather than argument between the large economic powers will slowly take place.

Otherwise, the rest of the world may continue growing and eventually take global leadership, without them.