APEC San Francisco summit preparations in full swing

by Ambassador B. Romualdez

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. with President Xi Jinping at APEC 2022 | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The city of San Francisco in California is pulling out all the stops for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Conference in November, with an estimated 30,000 delegates composed of CEOs, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, media representatives, and other key stakeholders together with world leaders from the Asia-Pacific region.

Several of my business friends who were joining the President privately messaged me, wondering why San Francisco was chosen as the venue for APEC 2023. Much news has depicted San Francisco as a deteriorating city due to the crime surge, especially in the downtown area. Still, local officials, particularly the police, are putting things in order and tightening security measures for such a high-level event as APEC, which has been described as the “Super Bowl of World Economies.”

The San Francisco police, the Sheriff’s office, and the California Highway Patrol are working with various federal agencies to secure the areas where the leaders’ summit and other conferences will be happening. Road closures and parking restrictions will be implemented, and delivery vehicles entering the secure zones will be strictly scrutinized and screened. At the same time, flight and maritime conditions on the bay will also be imposed.

The US Secret Service, of course, is also involved in the preparations to help ensure the safety not only of the participants and the general public during the weeklong event but, most especially, the state leaders who will be taking part in the APEC Leaders’ Summit from Nov. 15 to 18, which has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security as a “national special security event.”

Recognizing that such a mammoth event will undoubtedly impact the residents of San Francisco, the Secret Service, through Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jeremy Brown, had assured that the goal of their law enforcement and public safety partners is to “provide a secure environment while minimizing impact and inconveniences to residents and businesses.”

While acknowledging the excellent opportunity to showcase San Francisco on a global scale, police chief Bill Scott also issued a warning that “any act of violence against any members of the public or against law enforcement will not be tolerated” and that all available resources will be used to protect the city.

The APEC is the biggest forum of international stature that the city will be hosting in almost 80 years, and local organizers are understandably excited at the economic boon that the event will bring to hotels, restaurants, and other business establishments, with many expressing optimism that this would press the “restart button” for their tourism industry.

“President Marcos, who is one of the speakers during the high-level dialogue on “Intentional Equity in Sustainability,” has a perfect opportunity to engage with the top CEOs and highlight the economic reforms that the country has been pursuing and implementing to attract more foreign investment and expand commerce, not only domestically but also globally.”

APEC economies – composed of the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Singapore, China, Brunei, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines – account for close to 40 percent of the world’s population or about 3 billion people, representing 62 percent of world GDP and 48 percent of world trade in 2021, with real GDP increasing from $19 trillion in 1989 to $58.2 trillion in 2021, according to APEC data.

Established in November 1989, APEC has become a dynamic engine of economic growth and has emerged as one of the most important regional forums in the Asia-Pacific region. The idea of a regional economic and trade forum was first brought forth by the late Australian Prime Minister Robert James “Bob” Hawke in January 1989, when he gave a speech before a Korean business community in Seoul.

The idea was simple – economies in the region should help each other as they pursue more trade, partnerships, and prosperity. Hawke saw the region’s potential in helping resolve global issues and appointed then Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Richard Woolcott as his special envoy to hold consultations with leaders across the Asia-Pacific region on the possibility of having a ministerial-level forum. In November 1989, the first APEC leaders’ meeting was held in Canberra, with the Philippines as one of the 12 founding members.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirmed his attendance at the Leaders’ Summit as early as August during a courtesy call in Malacañang by the members of the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) led by its president and CEO, Ambassador Ted Osius, who brought 30 members with him, the largest contingent ever to visit the Philippines. The US-ABC expressed interest in investing in several industries, such as infrastructure, agriculture, clean energy, green metals, and semiconductors.

We have been coordinating with the State Department for protocol, security, and other details, with our San Francisco consulate taking the lead more or less in the arrangements for the President’s participation. Consul General Neil Ferrer has been attending meetings and other activities relative to the preparations for the summit under the theme of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All,” with an emphasis on building a more interconnected, innovative, and inclusive APEC region to bring about economic recovery and long-term prosperity.

President Marcos, who is one of the speakers during the high-level dialogue on “Intentional Equity in Sustainability,” has a perfect opportunity to engage with the top CEOs and highlight the economic reforms that the country has been pursuing and implementing to attract more foreign investment and expand commerce, not only domestically but also globally.

The President will also bring into focus energy security, which, as he has explained on several occasions, is high on his economic agenda, particularly in sustainable land, water, and ocean solutions that align with the Philippines’ climate goals and will support plans to transform the Philippines into an upper middle-income country by 2025.

Email: babeseyeview@gmail.com

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