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APEC Summit 2021 as an anticipation of a new reality

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Virtual Summit in the summer of 2021, as well as other events under its auspices, demonstrate the vectors of change.

Dmitry Shelest, deputy. Director of the FEFU Expert and Analytical Center - on the role of the Russian Federation in APEC and future prospects.

APEC Summit 2021 as an anticipation of a new reality

Dmitry Shelest

Deputy Director of the Expert-Analytical Center of the Far Eastern Federal University

The states of the Pacific Basin have different economic and political structures, far from equal contributions to the global gross product, as well as relationships with other players in the international arena that are different in their complexity. Nevertheless, the APEC member countries are united by a common concern for the future, which today changes almost instantly from a historical point of view. The possibility of waiting for this or that problem to be solved by itself, or when someone will unexpectedly cope with it in modern conditions, becomes a very vicious, if not suicidal strategy. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic only aggravates the manifestation of the "new reality", but is by no means its beginning or its end.

According to APEC's plans, in 2021, several platforms were planned at which from July to November, issues of food security, women's participation in the economy, problems of small and medium-sized businesses, fundamental economic challenges in the Asia-Pacific region (APR), the state of global financial systems in relation to the region and much more in the indicated directions. At the same time, the customary meeting of the leaders of the Pacific organization was initiated in July by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jasinda Ardari. Obviously, the idea of ​​a virtual summit, launched by the presidency, was agreed with the main players: China, Russia, the United States and Japan. However, this did not diminish the intrigue and conveyed additional interest to all upcoming undertakings under APEC 2021.

The specificity of the past virtual summit and other events is that the unification of the Pacific economies, in its political meaning, is a fairly neutral platform. In turn, the shift in the volume of production and money turnover to the Pacific area gives a certain political weight to the APEC organization, which allows it to take on the functions of a “regional UN” to solve problems at the level of this mega-region.

Therefore, when the call was made to unite in the fight against coronavirus infection as the main thesis, it was also about the search for a certain new configuration of the device and interaction in the Asia-Pacific region. Accordingly, the second message of the APEC Summit-2021 - "restoration of the world economy" sounded more intriguing than it might seem to a person with little interest in economic problems. And the main riddle that the representatives of the Pacific states had to solve was the following: how to do this and with the help of what tools?

To a certain extent, the world still uses the socio-economic mechanisms that worked, and quite well, during the XNUMXth century. However, the current model of global capitalism is failing more and more with every passing year. Even such an apologist for capitalist relations, the famous English economist Paul Collier, is forced to admit that "modern capitalism is capable of providing all of us with an unprecedented level of prosperity, but it is morally untenable and tragic upheavals await it." In turn, the statement of a representative of academic science and the tasks of at least some responsible politicians are very different. Every state leader, naturally, will strive to prevent any "tragic shocks", no matter what the cost.

Perhaps, it is in this context that the meeting of the leaders of the APEC member countries should be perceived. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a factor that has exacerbated political uncertainty, highlighted the massive volatility of the global economy and threatened the implementation of sustainable development goals. In no less obvious way, the new coronavirus infection has shown that the decisions of even the most significant world players will remain good wishes if the global agenda or dialogue with other subjects of international relations is not taken into account.

First of all, the top officials of the APEC member states started talking about the long-term goals, which they noted in their statement. The planning horizon in accordance with the Pacific strategy Putrajaya Vision, announced at the APEC events in 2020, is determined by 2040. Conceptually, we are talking about such general concepts as strengthening the socio-economic component, achieving a balance between them, security, sustainability and inclusive growth. Naturally, they also discussed the need to develop an innovative economy and its digitalization, restart world trade and investment activity.

Naturally, the participants declared their readiness to act in these areas from the standpoint of their interests. Thus, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern about the obstacles to the spread of the Sputnic-V vaccine, announcing its readiness to produce up to 800 million units of the drug per year in cooperation with interested countries. The global nature of such a proposal is obvious. The lack of vaccinations only widens the economic gap between rich and poor countries, and also reduces the investment attractiveness in those regions (usually less prosperous) where coronavirus infection is most prevalent.

President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping is also acting in the same direction, who announced China's readiness to send US $ 3 billion to developing countries affected by the coronavirus over three years, as well as to transfer the Chinese vaccine to the most vulnerable poor countries as a result of the pandemic.    

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga described possible measures to limit the spread of the disease caused by COVID-19, using the example of the organization of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. According to the head of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Japanese experience is being replicated on a large scale.

The statement of the President of the United States, Joseph Biden, was of a general nature, but suggested a rather interesting concept of investing in global health, which, if sufficiently developed and coordinated by major international players, allows us to speak of a new approach to national saving. True, the American president could not resist a "prick" at Beijing, mentioning the need for free shipping in the Indian-Pacific region.

Thus, the closed format of the July summit speaks volumes. Dubbed a “viral summit” by French channel France24, the summit marked the existence of a new reality. First of all, this is the expectation of the next wave of COVID-19, which, according to the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adanom Gibreyesus, will "cover" humanity in the near future. In these conditions, it can be argued that the beginning of a new political reality has been laid. And if many agree on the need for changes, then the changes in the economy that affect peoples, cities and countries are a rather serious thing and in some places unpredictable. And in this regard, the virtual summit against the background of other events within the framework of APEC becomes a step towards reorienting the future.

The first is the realization that human civilization in the next decade is unlikely to reach a utopia or at least a state of sustainable prosperity. The described problems operate in a complex and ubiquitous manner, which implies the expenditure of a significant number of resources only on the elimination of the accumulated contradictions.

Second, the modern world has already formed as a global system. Consequently, further progress must be seen as a system overhaul, the need for which the COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted. Another way, that is, the regionalization of economies, presupposes a much longer period of a new world reconstruction.

And finally, the third. The ideological models that determined the strategy of state power and the worldview of generations now “do not work” both for the reasons stated and for the complication of all structures of global humanity.

Thus, the leaders, when discussing the details of the new configuration, primarily focus on how to level various economic contradictions. This is the gap in the incomes of the population, and the disproportions in regional economies. And the "viral summit" itself became one of those events where the heads of the leading states tried to "grope" the top-priority steps for building the future in the third decade of the XNUMXst century.

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