Event Recap: Executive Roundtable on The APEC Debrief
Tuesday, December 12, 2023 — Asia Society Northern California hosted its Executive Roundtable on The APEC Debrief. Speakers included Vinod Aggarwal (Distinguished Professor and Alann P. Bedford Endowed Chair in Asian Studies, Department of Political Science at UC Berkeley), Anja Manuel (Former Diplomat; Author; Co-Founder, Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC) and Alan Larson (co-leader, Covington's Global Problem Solving (GPS) initiative; Former U.S. Under Secretary of State). Aggarwal, Manuel, and Larson shared insights on the efficacy of the APEC summit, and discussed both the domestic and international factors that shape the Indo-Pacific countries' participation in trade agreements.
Professor Aggarwal stressed that exchanges between leaders at APEC are significant, even without producing binding agreements. He touched on the history of APEC and Indo-Pacific trade agreements like the TPP and RCEP, and emphasized the detriments of the U.S.'s lack of trade strategy in the Indo-Pacific.
Manuel explained the various pressures facing investment in China, such as national security. While acknowledging the strengths of Chinese entrepreneurs in AI and electric vehicles, she noted their limited operational scope. She highlighted the rising popularity of investing in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Vietnam.
Larson commented on the complex relations between national economic strength and national strategic strength, comparing the U.S.’s dynamics with China to the one with the Soviet Union. He discussed how China's relationship with Europe after its involvement with Russia, and the importance of thinking about the future of China's economy.
In the Q&A, we heard questions about the drawbacks of no active trade policies, R&D constraints, the effects of the proliferation of alliances, and how the U.S. can become a bigger player in Southeast Asia.