Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Goodman’
Earlier this week, I attended an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vladivostok in September this year.
This is the first time Russia will host APEC since it finally entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year after more than 18 years of talks. And we were fortunate to have with us both Russia’s senior official for APEC, Ambassador Gennady Ovechko, and former White House Coordinator for APEC (and current CSIS political economy program head) Matthew Goodman.
What struck me most was not the list of priorities Russia has for the upcoming meeting, which Ambassador Ovechko explored in depth. Rather, it was the worry that Mr. Goodman expressed regarding the future of APEC as an organization. While he stressed the grouping has been important as a sign of US commitment to the Asia-Pacific, a workhorse for the pick and shovel work of economic integration, and an incubator of broader regional and global economic issues, he seemed concerned about its ability to sustain its momentum and relevance.
He attributed this worry to several reasons. First, the attention devoted to APEC, already much lower than it deserves, tends to ebb and flow and is generally less in an election year. Structurally, since APEC is a sophisticated organization with moving parts, it is easy to get lost in the maze of acronyms and the sea of groups and sub-groups. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the momentum in an organization like APEC is such that it needs to produce consistent and concrete results.
What does this all mean for Vladivostok in 2012 and beyond? Mr. Goodman had a few suggestions. He stressed the importance of continuity and encouraged Russia to move forward on several initiatives the United States made progress on last year, including on health and women. And he returned several times to a point about focusing on “a few key wins” within different priority areas instead of trying to get a whole spectrum of issues addressed.
It was not clear from Ambassador Ovechko’s remarks to what degree Russia had or would internalize these considerations. He had a lot of praise for APEC as a “consistent, business-minded forum”, and spoke of great enthusiasm in Moscow for the dynamism of the Asia-Pacific compared to the doom associated these days with Europe. But one hopes this commendation is tempered with some of the caution that Mr. Goodman evinced.
You can hear an audio of the proceedings here.