What is APEC?
The Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), established in 1989, is a forum that promotes free trade in the Asia-Pacific region and was formed on account of the growing interdependence between Asia. At present, the APEC has twenty-one member economies.
India's APEC membership application
- India applied for an APEC membership in 1993, and again in 2007.
- However, in 1997, APEC put a moratorium on new memberships for a ten year period, extending effectively till 2007.
- In 2007, APEC decided to extend the moratorium till 2010.
- Atleast fifteen other countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh had applied for an APEC membership, and are still waiting in queue, like India.
Why the delay in India's APEC membership?
- India's membership has been in queue for two decades because of various reasons.
- The geographic reason is that India doesn't border the Pacific, while the rest of APEC member nations do.
- Also, APEC being a forum promoting free trade, India's bureaucracy, high custom duties and elaborate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) rules were seen as an impediment to trading, and reforms were demanded.
APEC economies form bulk of world GDP
The economies currently in APEC account for over 57% of the world GDP and 47% of world trade. Some of the major APEC economies are Australia, China, Canada, USA, Japan, Mexico and Russia.
India's membership plea supported by several countries
- India's APEC membership request received quite a lot of support from major APEC member nations.
- Among India's major supporters are the United States of America, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, among other South-East Asian countries.
- Even China might not be opposed to India's membership in APEC, considering President Xi Jinping invited PM Modi for the 2014 APEC summit in Beijing.
India's APEC membership request supported by USA
- The India-US Business Summit which saw a US-India decision to cooperate in making of aircraft carriers for India, also saw the US pledge its support to India's APEC membership request.
- India's opportunity came after two decades as APEC memberships were closed since 1993.
- India, one of the biggest emerging economies of the Asia-Pacific region, will benefit tremendously from joining this high-power economic group.
India's request to join APEC under consideration
- The 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila will take India's request for membership under consideration after two decades.
- Sung-Hwan Kim, for South Korean foreign minister said that Korea would welcome India's inclusion.
- A joint taskforce of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Asia Society Policy Institute is working to facilitate India's inclusion in APEC headed by ex-Australian PM Kevin Rudd.
India heavily invested in APEC economies
India is heavily invested in the APEC economies, said Shyam Saran, member of the CII-Asia Society taskforce that aims to facilitate India's inclusion. According to Saran, India has over $49 billion invested in APEC countries.
India-APEC bill introduced in US Congress
- A group of influential American lawmakers have introduced a legislation asking the Obama administration to help India join the APEC forum.
- The Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Matt Salmon, introduced the legislation in the US Congress, saying an economically prosperous India benefits the US' strategic goals in Asia.
- He was supported by nine other lawmakers in his bid.