Prime Minister Harper recently traveled to Australia for this year’s APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit. During his visit, the Prime Minister had the opportunity to meet with various international leaders including Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, as well as the opportunity to address issues of mutual international significance. I would like to use this week’s journal to highlight a few of the many successes resulting from the Summit.
APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade, and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. The organization was established in 1989 to advance economic growth and prosperity for the region and to strengthen the Asia-Pacific community. It is the only inter-governmental grouping in the world operating on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue, and equal respect for the views of all participants. Any decisions that are made by APEC members are reached by consensus and commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis.
APEC has 21 members that are often referred to as “Member Economies,” who account for approximately 41 per cent of the world’s population and approximately 56 per cent of the world GDP and about 49 per cent of world trade. Member countries include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Republic of the Philippines, The Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States of America, and Viet Nam.
While in Australia, Prime Minister Harper gave a keynote address to more than 200 business and political leaders on Canada’s balanced approach to reversing global warming that can be used as a model for the next international protocol on climate change. He stressed that climate change is one of the most important public policy challenges of our time and that all countries need to take action now. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of striking a balance between sustainable economic growth and careful environmental stewardship, as the key to a practical, realistic, and effective global action plan for climate change.
The Prime Minister then went on to outline the new Canadian strategy which involves regulating emissions for the first time, while investing in new clean energy technologies and establishing a carbon emissions trading market that will give business the incentive to run cleaner, greener operations.
During the Summit, Canada signed four significant agreements including the youth for work exchange program; a public service professional development exchange program; an agreement to contribute to global action on climate change; and a multi-faceted joint announcement with Australia that involves human rights promotion, demining, and border control in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister also had productive meetings with President Calderon of Mexico, President Bachelet of Chile, and President Garcia of Peru.
Most importantly, Canada renewed and strengthened its relationship with Australia. Towards the end of his visit, Prime Minister Harper addressed the Australian Parliament and as a result, became the first Canadian Prime Minister in history to do so. In his address, he outlined the significant progress achieved at this year’s Summit and underlined the importance of all countries to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The 2007 APEC Summit proved to be a successful and productive session, where Canada renewed and strengthened existing ties with fellow members and as a result, signed new agreements benefiting our country and many others. More importantly though, Prime Minister Harper underscored the increasing problem of climate change with APEC member countries and presented Canada’s approach as a balanced model for the international community to follow.