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The genesis of APEC: Australian-Japan political initiatives

CollectionsANU Australia–Japan Research Centre (AJRC)
Title: The genesis of APEC: Australian-Japan political initiatives
Author(s): Terada, Takashi
Keywords: APEC
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
international trading system
Hawke's foreign policy
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
Richard Woolcott
Date published: 1999
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: Australia–Japan Research Centre, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Management, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: Pacific Economic Papers (Australia–Japan Research Centre, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Management, The Australian National University): No. 298
An intergovernmental regional economic institution was a common goal of Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, his Office, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Japanese Ministry of International Trade Industry (MITI) in the late 1980s. Bob Hawke publicly announced the idea in Seoul in January 1989, but his initiative was backed by a solid foundation of cooperation with Japan. In mid-1988 MITI had floated a proposal for regional meetings of economic ministers and DFAT’s strong interest in the idea urged coordination between the two countries. In March 1989 a MITI delegation visited the region to sound out reactions to its proposal and the Hawke initiative, and this laid the groundwork for the Hawke proposal’s relatively easy acceptance on the Australian delegation’s later visit in April and May. Both countries continued to coordinate their approaches toward the organisation of the first Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Canberra in November 1989. MITI’s proposal was eventually subsumed into the Hawke initiative, but MITI believed the successful establishment of APEC amounted to the success of its own proposal. This paper concludes that APEC was a joint enterprise between Japanese and Australian leaders, as had been the case in the establishment of the previous three regional institutions: the Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC), the Pacific Trade and Development (PAFTAD) forum and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC).


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