Washington: With India becoming the fastest growing economy among emerging markets and China showing signs of a slowdown, conditions for India’s membership of APEC are more favourable than in the past, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has said.
“Within APEC, the conditions for Indian membership are more favourable than they have been in many years,” Rudd said in his address to an audience here on the release of a report ‘India’s Future in Asia: The APEC Opportunity’ by the Asia Policy Institute which he now heads.
Noting that Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) official moratorium on membership is no longer in force, and each year offers the opportunity to admit new members, he said several Latin American and Southeast Asian economies are candidates for admission.
At Peru later this year during the 2016 APEC meeting, the Obama administration can open this up and support India’s candidature, he said adding that key APEC members, including the US, Japan, China, and Russia, have all welcomed India’s interest in joining APEC, he noted.
Rudd said that China, the engine of the global economy for the past decade, has entered a period of slower growth and some uncertainty as it transitions to a new domestic consumption–based economy. While China’s growth will continue to set an enviable standard for Western economies, the Asia-Pacific region, long centered on a fast-growing China, is in search of new markets for trade and investment, access to new consumers and workers, and new sources of innovation.
“India holds the promise of offering these opportunities but must be afforded greater access to the region’s diverse economies to deliver on that promise,” Rudd said. APEC has been at the forefront of integrating the Asia-Pacific region by facilitating trade, reducing non-tariff barriers, and expanding global value chains, he said adding it has helped create habits of economic dialogue and cooperation among its 21 member economies and fostered enormous regional trade expansion and market integration.
In his address Indian Ambassador to the US, Arun K Singh, argued that the admission of India is the single greatest opportunity that APEC has to expand regional integration and counter the trend of slowing economic growth in Asia. “For the APEC to fully realise its potential in the Asia-Pacific and the world at large, it needs to reflect 21st century realities. This would entail inclusion of economies such as India, given their economic size and potential,” the Indian envoy said adding APEC appears to be the only forum pertaining to the region of which India is not a member.
India’s ‘Act East’ policy envisions increased cooperation in trade, investment, infrastructure development, connectivity, capacity building and strengthening people-to- people contacts in the region, which can reinforce goals shared by APEC, Singh said.