SEOUL — Another APEC summit has come and gone but has anything really changed? The question that needs to be asked is whether the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is still relevant? No one attending the recent APEC summit in Bangkok really wanted to leave — especially after the magnificence of the royal barge procession — but was APEC itself left stronger or weaker as a result?

Politics is at the heart of the matter and, in particular, APEC’s apolitical bias. Its original goal was to combine the efforts of government and business in furthering trade and investment liberalization, and facilitation, as well as capacity building through economic and technical projects building on the diversity of its members. Politics was squeezed out of APEC at a time when globalization was purely an economic phenomenon. But that time is long past.

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