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September 9, 2007

IRINN Reports on Sydney APEC Meeting

Broadcast 8 September on Iranian state satellite TV (IRINN)

Announcer Farhadi to international relations expert Monazehi: This organization has 21 members who all have their own political inclinations. Will these differences lead this organization to a unified consensus or not?

Monazehi: There are 21 countries in APEC, but the differing levels of development in these nations and their political and economic structures seem to pose problems for the achievement of this organization's intended objectives. APEC's primary objective is economic and trade development.

However the last meeting was different in view of the fact that George Bush was there and in light of the special political needs of the US, especially in connection with what is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq and what the Americans are calling the war on Terrorism. Therefore America's political needs eclipsed the organization's economic objectives. If you take all the circumstances into account it appears that APEC is facing a serious challenge and it is difficult to believe it will be able to achieve its objectives. Of course we must realize that the APEC member nations such as Japan, South Korea, China, the US, Canada and Australia all have relatively advanced economies. Therefore if they agree to create a common market, in my view this could affect the entire world.

Announcer Farhadi: Mr. Monazehi, you mentioned three nations that are very powerful economically, Russia, China and the US. It appears that they are also faced with strategic challenges. Will these conflicts affect APEC's overall policies?

Monazehi: It will certainly affect them! China is experiencing rapid growth and is considered an economic rival to the US. Rivalry for power cannot be tolerated at the international level and the US cannot tolerate a powerful economic rival in the long term. The same situation applies to Russia. Russia is rebuilding from the Soviet era and is also a rival to the US. The rivalry among these great powers does not permit cooperation in APEC at a level independent from these other issues. Moreover, the economies of these nations are not of the same type. It is true that China is moving in the direction of capitalism to some extent, but its economy is still based on Mao's Marxist thinking. Another reality is that APEC has not yet been able fully to achieve the goals it has defined for itself. There are even some who think APEC may collapse in the future because of these challenges.

Farhadi to Dr. Yazdanpanah, political affairs expert: It appears that there are conflicts between the interests of member nations and the US in the area of agricultural subsidies. Do you think these conflicts will increase?

Yazdanpanah: APEC is one of the world's largest economic institutions, but the economy is not its only area of concern. It also deals with politics and most important of all, with security. However in view of this organization's orientation and in view of its trans-regional essence, it appears that the security concerns and the war on terrorism have overshadowed this organization to some extent. These things have also affected the world's other economic institutions. It is clear that the members of this organization, of which the US is one, have in some cases overstepped the provisions of its charter. This exacerbates the disagreements that we are seeing within the organization.

Farhadi: Do you think two great economic powers such as China and the US think themselves above the organization's other members and in a position to impose their policies on it?

Yazdanpanah: It is naturally this way. China is considered an economic superpower in the 21st Century; we know that China is at the top of the world's economy. On the other hand the US is China's fierce economic rival and is worried that China's burgeoning economy will damage the US economy both within and outside the US. Internationally these two nations are rivals both economically and in terms of their interests. Within this organization they are trying to preserve their competitive balance. The economic relationship between these two nations and the economic tensions we sometimes see between China and the US where for example the US has declared that China's goods are contaminated and leveled accusations at the Chinese, causing the Chinese to take a harsh stance towards the US, all cast a shadow on APEC and affect all the other member nations with smaller economies, yet this is outside the APEC charter. APEC really wants to pursue economic objectives complementary to the relations among these nations. If this trend continues naturally the disagreements will increase and it is possible APEC's objectives will come under the influence of this situation and the deteriorating relations between the US and China will not prevent APEC pursuing its economic objectives.

Farhadi: Do you think this economic transformation will serve the interest of the US or of China?

Yazadanpanah: It is too early to say, but clearly in view of US anxieties about Chinese economic growth, in the years to come the USA will be hurt. On the other hand in view of the fact that the world trade base in the US has disappeared, the US will be damaged. All of these things depend on the kind of relations and the definitions of the infrastructures these two nations can provide in the future.

Crossposted to The Satellite News

Posted by John at September 9, 2007 8:27 AM

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