[VIEWPOINT]How APEC will benefit KoreaTwo significant international events are scheduled to take place in Busan this autumn. Following the 10th annual Pusan International Film Festival in October, leaders of the 21 members of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) will assemble in November for the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. If the film festival can be seen as a stage for advancing Korean culture, the Leaders’ Meeting will be a chance to check our economic progress.
Hosting APEC is a good opportunity for Korea to take steps toward revitalizing its economy and is a sturdy foundation upon which to progress toward becoming a fully developed nation. We expect 2005, the APEC year, to supply the Korean economy with a much-needed boost, a great gift for us as we celebrate our 60th National Liberation Day.
The emphasis at this year’s APEC conference will be placed on economic issues. The delegates will take stock of the progress of the Bogor Goals agreed to in Indonesia in 1994, and will draw up a roadmap based on the results of that review. In addition, there will be intensive discussion of measures to support the World Trade Organization-Doha Development Agenda Ministerial Meeting.
As the world’s largest regional economic cooperation forum, APEC represents the most economically dynamic region in the world. Its member economies account for 57 percent of world gross domestic product and 46 percent of world trade. APEC member economies are major trading and investment partners for Korea, accounting for 70.4 percent of our total trade, 74.1 percent of foreign direct investment in Korea and 63.3 percent of total foreign investment here. Those numbers alone illustrate the immense influence of APEC on our economy.
Hosting APEC 2005 is expected to affect the domestic economy in various ways. While Korea has experience with hosting large-scale international conferences, such as the 2000 Asia-Europe Meeting, APEC 2005 can be considered the grandest diplomatic event ever organized by Korea, in light of the fact that the United States is participating, and that it will be not just a single summit meeting, but will entail numerous rounds of talks at various levels throughout the year.
With SOM I (the Senior Officials Meeting) and related meetings kicking off the APEC year this spring, 40 additional rounds of multi-level APEC meetings are scheduled for 2005, with approximately 16,000 participants expected to visit Korea. According to the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), expenditures in Korea by APEC-related visitors are expected to total about $30 million.
To support balanced national development, the government has designated cities in regional areas such as Busan, Daegu and Gyeongju as venues for APEC meetings. The government has also allocated large-scale investments to facilitate the successful hosting of this major international event.
If we host APEC successfully, it will help the nation’s profile and credibility abroad, which will stimulate foreign direct investment. KIEP estimates that the boon to foreign direct investment will be somewhere between $84 million and $120 million, and that the benefit to Korea’s GDP will be between $148 million and $255 million.
Busan itself is expected to benefit substantially from hosting the Economic Leaders’ Meeting. The Busan Development Institute estimates that APEC-related production and employment will generate more than 660 billion won ($655 million) in economic benefits for Busan.
Hosting the Economic Leaders’ Meeting is expected to contribute to the city’s plan to become the hub of Northeast Asian trade and business through the development of the Busan Newport Project and the Busan-Jinhae Free Economic Zone and to revitalize the economies of major industrial centers in Gyeongsang provinces.
The meeting is also expected to be a unique opportunity for the leaders of countries involved in the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program to discuss measures for promoting peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
If the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, reflecting the theme “Towards One Community: Meet the Challenge, Make the Change,” becomes a turning point in the recent turbulence in international economics, then APEC 2005 is sure to be remembered as an asset on the balance sheet of Asia-Pacific economics.
* The writer is the executive director of the Preparatory Office for APEC 2005.
by Choi Jong-moo