The theme of the 12th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting - "One Community, Our Future" - is a reflection of the members' strong will to promote regional economic dynamism and a sense of unity.
The gathering of leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies gathered in Santiago, Chile on Saturday and Sunday to exchange views on economic challenges facing the region is evidence of their unremitting efforts to provide direction to APEC's wide-ranging activities in support of trade and investment liberalization and sustainable growth and prosperity.
With a population accounting for 60 per cent of the world's total, the stability and growth of the Asia-Pacific region is of vital significance to the world economy.
APEC, a major economic cooperation forum in the region, is an important link connecting its members.
The setting of collective goals that allow for difference between member economies is clear when considering the way in which the central APEC goals, known as the Bogor Goals, have been set.
Agreed in the 1994 Economic Leaders' Meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, APEC wants to achieve free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region by 2010 and 2020 for industrialized and developing economies respectively.
It is important to note that APEC has progressed its agenda through consensus building.
The goals are shared by all members, but adjusted to meet the special circumstances of individual economies. This is important in a global economy in which all members are striving to be competitive and enhance the living conditions of their people, and where these economies come from a wide variety of economic starting points.
Since its inception in 1989, APEC economies have generated nearly 70 percent of global growth and the region consistently outperformed the rest of the world, even during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
The outcome of its three key pillars - trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation and economic, and technical cooperation - enable its members to strengthen their economies by pooling resources within the region.
A vital mechanism for exchanging views and establishing mutual confidence, APEC shows not only market openness and economic and technical co-operation, but also reduces conflicts and promotes regional stability in the fields related to financial anti-terrorism and trade security.
With terrorist activities rampant worldwide this year, including the Beslan school hostage siege and Jakarta bombings, both APEC members, consensus reaffirming collective anti-terrorism action shows a determination and effort to create a sound political and secure environment for regional economic growth.
Although APEC still faces challenges such as realizing the Bogor timetable on time, and making it more efficient, it is evident that it has been playing a vital role and will show its momentum in the world economy in future.
(China Daily November 22, 2004)