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Taking forward the APEC Agenda

2015/11/17

(Li Baodong, Vice Foreign Minister of China,
China Daily Asia Weekly, 13 November 2015)

It is again autumn in Beijing, where trees have turned a myriad of colors in the crisp air under the "APEC blue" sky. This is one of the charming memories of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM) held here one year ago.

In November 2014, APEC Leaders gathered by Yanqi Lake in Beijing for the 22nd AELM.

They issued the Leaders' Declaration ― Beijing Agenda for an Integrated, Innovative and Interconnected Asia-Pacific and the Statement on the 25th Anniversary of APEC, approved important documents such as the Beijing Roadmap for APEC's Contribution to the Realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), APEC Accord on Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth and APEC Connectivity Blueprint for 2015-2025.

They also decided to shape the future through Asia-Pacific partnership, build an open economy in the Asia-Pacific, and realize the Asia-Pacific dream of common development, prosperity and progress.

On the basis of 25 years of efforts and achievements, APEC Leaders set out a clear vision and pathway for future economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

Just like what President Xi Jinping said after the Beijing AELM, Yanqi Lake is, of course, not the finishing line; rather a new starting point for APEC. 2015 is the first year of the second quarter of the century of APEC.

The APEC family set off on the journey with mandates of the Beijing outcomes. We have taken solid steps toward fully implementing the Beijing outcomes and have a lot to show for our results.

As the landmark achievement of the Beijing AELM, the FTAAP process was successfully kicked off and is being advanced in an orderly way.

The Collective Strategic Study on FTAAP, led by China and the United States and with participation of all APEC economies, has been started and is currently in the phase of substantive drafting.

This Study will assess the potential impact and benefit of FTAAP, analyze possible pathways for its realization and be submitted to the leaders by the end of 2016 along with any recommendations.

Efforts were also made by economies to promote policy dialogues, experience sharing with a view to addressing capacity building needs and consolidate consensus over FTAAP process.

The FTAAP is an important way to address the "spaghetti bowl effect" and fragmentation risk caused by various regional trade arrangements. We have every confidence to make the FTAAP another grand goal leading Asia-Pacific economic cooperation after the Bogor Goals.

The Beijing AELM adopted the APEC Connectivity Blueprint for 2015-2025 and set the vision and goals in the next ten years for a seamless and comprehensively connected and integrated Asia-Pacific. China has submitted to the APEC Secretariat a report on the implementation of the blueprint in 2015.

China worked closely with Asia-Pacific partners in a wider scope to take advantage of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative and further promoted policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people to people bond. A number of trade, investment, industrial, energy and financial projects have taken shape as "early harvest".

Good progress has been made in key infrastructure projects such as cross-border roads, railways and telecommunications networks. Fifty-four countries have signed the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which will soon start its operation.

In the first half of 2015, two-way trade between China and the economies along the "Belt and Road" totaled US$485.37 billion, enabling people in these countries to have a more diversified choice of consumer products.

The APEC Business Travel Card, also known as the "diplomatic passport for business people", has had its validity extended from 3 to 5 years starting from 1 September 2015.

Business people can enjoy visa-free treatment and fast-track immigration clearance within APEC economies for a longer period of time once their application is approved, thus greatly facilitating cross-border personnel movement.

Not only do we jointly create value, we also fight corruption and defend the achievements of development.

For ordinary people, the Asia-Pacific is a vibrant family and an integrated market, but for corruption suspects, APEC casts a net of justice from which there is no escape.

According to the APEC Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption, the parties have used the Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET) to carry out effective cooperation in information sharing, cross-border investigation assistance and anti-corruption law enforcement.

In December 2014, the ACT-NET International Fugitive Repatriation and Asset Recovery Workshop was held in China. In the meantime, APEC members continued to deepen bilateral and multilateral anti-corruption cooperation.

Take China for example. Interpol's China National Center Bureau issued "red warrants" against 100 suspects and stepped up worldwide huntdown, for which it received active cooperation from relevant members. China has established law enforcement cooperation mechanisms with the United States and Canada.

The implementation of "Operation Sky Net" aimed at fugitives and stolen assets has received cooperation from Singapore and New Zealand. APEC economies should work together to weave a closely-knit net of justice to hunt down every corrupt criminal.

"APEC blue" shouldn't be short-lived. In Beijing, leaders reiterated their determination to pursue low-carbon and sustainable development.

In the past year, we have actively implemented the concept of green development and promoted practical cooperation in the green supply chain network as well as the green upgrade of industrial chains.

In June 2015, the first Pilot Center of APEC Cooperation Network on Green Supply Chain was launched in Tianjin, China. What's more, China established a plantation of 85 hectares in Beijing and its surrounding Hebei Province.

Over 20 years, this plantation will offset the 6,371 tons of CO2 emitted during the 2014 APEC meeting, making Beijing AELM the first carbon neutral APEC meeting ever.

The carbon neutralization forests have become an integral part of the nature, adding to the charm of the autumn.

These achievements are just a few examples of our work in the past year. APEC members are actively conducting policy dialogue and coordination to implement the Beijing outcomes and strengthen institution and capacity building.

According to the consensus of the Beijing AELM, APEC has set up more than ten new cooperation mechanisms and China alone has hosted more than 20 seminoars/workshops.

China has submitted its 2015 Progress Report on the Implementation of the Outcomes of the Beijing AELM, which gives a comprehensive review of the progress in various areas. Implementation will be a long-term job. China and all APEC economies will work tirelessly for it.

The APEC family has every reason to be proud of the progress and achievements made in the past year.

They are rooted in our commitment to the Asia-Pacific partnership, respect for the diversity of APEC economies and their development paths and models, the spirit of mutual trust, inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation.

The progress also comes from the delivery of our pledges. China stands ready to work with other memebers to continue and take forward the APEC agenda, strive for more "autumn harvests" and realize the Asia-Pacific dream of common development, prosperity and progress.

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