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APEC: a Peck of Pickled Pacific Presidents

4 Adjectives in Search of a NounHa! Say that shit seven times swiftly in Sydney! It’s the Plaid Avenger coming at you again from ‘Down Under’ reporting live at the APEC meeting to bring all my plaid friends up to speed on what the hell is going on n the world.  The meeting is still hot, and the booze is flowing as fast as fabricated vocabulary from George Bush’s lips…and I have to tell you, that guy can still do a serious inverted keg hit! Somebody told him that we were in the Southern Hemisphere, so he thought we all had to drink upside-down in order to get hammered! Dudes! This guy can party outside of the beltway!

But I digress as usual when I start getting buzzed with the Bushes… Today’s rant will be a quickie—I just want you to know what the hell APEC is, so dig this:

Fences, foes and farces: world view of APEC

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Climate Change, Nuclear Power Central to APEC Meeting

APEC? OPEC? Thanks Austria!

There’s more to APEC than USA

APEC 2007 Homepage

APEC stands for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation—famously referred to as 4 adjectives in search of a noun. Ha! Too hilarious! And many think the grouping is just 21 countries in search of a mission.  And this year’s meeting in Sydney, Australia doesn’t seem to be helping clarify what this group is all about.  But let’s see if the Avenger can sort out some of the details for you….

The HOT 21st Century Ocean!

APEC consists of most…but not all…of the countries that border the vast Pacific Ocean.  Hmmmm….let’s see, we’ve got Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (which is China), Taiwan (which is China), Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, United States, and Viet Nam.  These entities are referred to as “Member Economies” which stresses their main motivation to be in this club—its all about the money! Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money!

So how they make mo’ money at an APEC meeting? APEC is like many other economic unions across the plaid planet—like the WTO, NAFTA, the EU, and ASEAN just to name a few—whose primary goal is to get countries to sit down at the table once a year and figure out how to better increase economic trade amongst them. And how do they do that? By lowering trade barriers like tariffs (a fancy word for taxes), lowering barriers to international investment, and facilitating each other as much as possible in order to move goods, services, and money…we here in the real world refer to this as cooperation. So you have countries cutting deals and trying to work together in order for shit to move more freely economically….so like Thailand will tell Mexico, ” Hey, we won’t put any import taxes on your tequila if you promise to not put any import taxes on our pineapples,” and Mexico would be like, “Que? Si senor, that sheeet sounds sweet!”

However, you need to be aware of this: everything that goes down at an APEC meeting is non-binding.  Huh? What the hell does that mean? That means that none of these countries during any of these talks is actually signing anything resembling a contract. There is no bound charter, or set of rules or regulations, or laws or by-laws.  These 21 countries just meet once a year to rap about things informally and come to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ about how to work together best in the coming year. This is NOT like the WTO, or NATFTA, or even the EU—those clubs all have legit constitutions or binding contracts or laws which all the member states agree to follow when they join.  For instance, the WTO…which stands for the World Trade Organization…has almost all the exact same free-trade goals as APEC, but they also have laws which everyone agrees to follow.  And if Thailand taxes tequila after they promised not to in the WTO, then Mexico can sue them via WTO law.  Not so for APEC, which is non-binding.

APEC partying on the Great Wall

And that leads us to the mystery and mystic of this grouping of countries. Why would these guys get together, when there are already so many other international organizations dealing with trade? Here’s why: this is a hot zone of trade on our planet.  In fact the hottest! The Atlantic used to be the ‘in’ ocean for the last 500 years…what with all the explorers and colonist and trade and movement between Europe and the US.  But the Atlantic heyday is over my friends, and the Pacific is now kicking ass! With the US as a major consumer, and the rise of China as a superpower, along with places like Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand already being industrial mega-producers, the Pacific Ocean is witnessing more international trade than the history of humans has ever known! Damn! Its crazy!

I know you’ve never heard this phrase yet, so let me be the first to spring it on you: we are in the Pacific Century. You heard it here first.  More action will take place across this ocean than anywhere else on the planet in the coming decades.  And that’s why this group was formed. The 21 APEC countries have 2.6 billion people in them, account for 60% of world GDP, and currently do over half of all the world’s trade between them. Damn. That’s a lot a vig. And its growing fast.

We are goobers!APEC was actually invented and in Australia back in 1989, so it has come full circle with them hosting this year’s event. Go figure: Australia can claim credit on two inventions now: APEC and the boomerang.  No wonder they are so rich. NOT. Screw you Russell Crow! I’ll tell you what you can do with that boomerang you asshole! Oops…sorry…that guy really pisses me off. And I’m not the only one getting hot and bothered down here…some countries are starting to get miffed about the events here in Sydney….

Specifically, John Howard (you know who he is know, right?) and George Bush have been using the APEC forum to push their version of an anti-global warming agenda: an agenda which calls for poorer/developing countries like China and India to reduce CO2 emissions just like the rich countries are going to.  I won’t get into right now, but this is really pissing off the Chinese and other developing states.  Also, as part of their program, Howard & Bush are stressing the need to use nuclear power for energy generation, as well as pushing for more pro-democracy stuff within the member states.  Again, pissing of China and Vietnam…and maybe even Russia. 

True love rears its ugly head….The main point I want to make is that many things being talked about this year are not related to economics or trade, and this is blurring the lines a bit.  China and Russia didn’t come to this forum to hear about global fucking warming man! What gives? Who knows my friends, I’m just giving you the straight talk here in Sydney. APEC, at least for this year, has become an avenue for the US (and its little brother Australia) to vent about many other non-money related themes. 

We’ll just have to see how this plays out, and we also get to look forward to the group picture that always concludes the APEC summit.  AS witnessed in the pics above, it is taken in some sort of customary dress of the host country, and usually ends up looking ultra-gay!  I can’t wait to see it! And to give Crow the smack-down….I’ll tell you how that turns out too.  As for now, party in plaid….

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