Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2007
September 2 – 8, 2007
In 2007, four Furman students—Elizabeth Bradley, Alli Buckner, Pete DeMarco, and Anna Ready—along with Professor of Political Science Don Gordon, participated in the APEC “Voices of the Future” program held in Sydney, Australia. To view the students’ blog, click here.
For the first time, selected students were invited to attend the APEC Business Summit held at the Sydney Opera House. Pete DeMarco, chosen from the U.S. contingent, attended Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper’s opening address as well as two panel discussions, all of which provided a view on global warming. According to DeMarco, Stephen Harper emphasized the need to strike a balance between environmental stewardship and economic growth and supported the 50% world emission reduction proposed by Japan for 2050. On the other hand, the first panel that included CEOs of CNOOC (oil and gas company, China), BHP Billiton (the world’s largest mining company) and Chevron felt that coal consumption could double by 2050 since there are large reserves of coal. Hence, their discussion focused on improving technology that would enable cleaner burning of coal. The session was closed by Peru’s President Garcia, who offered a vision for next year’s APEC meeting to be held in Lima, Peru. He promised that issues important to developing economies will be front and center.
All Furman students attended APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meetings and conducted interviews with delegates including Yukio Shotuku, CEO, Panasonic; Yoshirro Watamabe, CEO, Mitsubishi; and Yoshio Ishizaka, CEO, Toyota, from Japan. Their perspective on the business’ role in environmental issues was one of the main foci of the discussion. Mr. Shotuku explained that developed nations within the APEC region, such as Japan, need to “take the lion’s share” of responsibility concerning environmental issues, and that developing nations need time to grow.
Students interviewed Jae-Hyun Hyun, the former Chairman of South Korea’s ABAC meeting in 2005, and former owner and chairman of one of the most successful businesses in South Korea, Tony Yang Group. Mr. Hyun explained that, to be successful, businesses must be flexible and willing to change their product to meet consumer demands. He also shared his philosophy about the essence of compromise in the ABAC process, “nothing is full of only good things; you just have to learn how to maximize the pluses and minimize the minuses.”
Lastly, the students interviewed Chile’s ABAC representative, Sergio Toro, an international lawyer from Chile. He shared his view on ABAC, “ABAC is a vehicle through which business and governmental leaders can have working relationships. It is essential that trade is opened in developing countries so that they may grow and develop their economies within the region.”
As customary, each delegation planned a “cultural presentation” for the APEC “Voices of the Future” group. The Japanese students made every delegation a banner with their country’s name written in Japanese calligraphy; the Indonesian and Vietnamese delegations wore traditional clothing from their countries and demonstrated ceremonial dances; and finally, the U.S. delegation (Pete, Elizabeth, Anna, and Alli) rapped about the U.S. to the beat of Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Pete prefaced the rap by saying that because the United States always gets a bad rap, and we want to give our country a good rap.
Elizabeth Bradley commented on her experience, “The times that I have learned the most have actually been the downtimes, when nothing was on the agenda. During those moments, I engaged in conversations with the other APEC Voices participants from the other member economies in the Asian-Pacific region. We discussed the many differences and similarities in our cultures and issues that affect us most – healthcare system in Australia, the political parties in Mexico, the Chinese one-child policy, the gun restrictions in New Zealand, and the environmental issues in Indonesia.”
Alli Buckner shared this reflection on her experience, “I realized the importance of organizations like APEC. It is only when we come together in one place to discuss the issues, to eat meals together, and to laugh together, that we can truly begin to work together toward a common goal. If we want to be a global community and not simply a group of globalized nations, then we must continue to engage one another and, most importantly, we must continue to listen to every voice.”