H.E. DR. SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA
AT THE APEC CEO SUMMIT
"THE ASIA-PACIFIC CENTURY"
Honolulu, Hawaii, 12 NOVEMBER 2011
Distinguished business leaders,
Ladies and gentlemen, and friends,
I am pleased to be here, at the APEC CEO Summit this morning to address the leading business leaders, in the Asia Pacific region.
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was launched more than two decades ago, and the Bogor Goals were outlined in 1994 to realize a vision of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific no later than 2020.
We have achieved much, in the last two decades. There has been peace, stability, prosperity and increased economic integration.
Average tariffs on goods have fallen from 16.9% to 5.5% and intra APEC trade increased more than five-fold from US$1.7 trillion to close to $10 trillion.
In the late 1990’s, the economies in the APEC region have been affected by the East Asian crisis, and many came out stronger and with sound fundamentals. This enabled Indonesia and a number of other APEC economies, to weather and rebound from the recent global crises. Hundreds of millions have also been lifted out of poverty, and the size of the middle class is growing remarkably, changing the face of the region.
There is good likelihood that the 21st century may well be ''the Asia-Pacific century''. Today, Asia-Pacific region, which connects Asia and the Americas, and covers both the Pacific and Indian oceans, is fast emerging to be the strategic and economic pivot of the world. If we can identify the way forward, what we do to ensure peace and progress in the region will also redefine the future of the world.
While things are looking up, we must keep in mind that the bright Asia Pacific century is not preordained. We must earn it every step of the way. We must build it brick by brick.
Let me suggest some thoughts and ideas on how to realize the Asia Pacific century.
FIRST, the Asia Pacific century must be central to efforts to achieve a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth for the world economy.
Here, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. We have had a framework and action plan under the G20, to achieve this.
Nine out of the 21 APEC members are G20 members, and the world’s largest economies : the United States, Japan and China. The Asia Pacific region also includes emerging economies, such as South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Vietnam and others. In the next few decades, most if not all of Asia Pacific economies will join the ranks of middle-income countries. And by 2050, the ADB predicts there will be no poor country in Asia.
In the recent G20 summit in Cannes, leaders have come up with a concrete action plan on how to rebalance the world economy, towards a more sustainable growth between surplus and deficit countries. Asia-Pacific will be central to this global rebalancing. Each of us will need to do our part, and show political will to pursue needed fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and restructuring, and for some, painful adjustments.
This is what Indonesia did several years ago, when we took the hard decision to reduce oil subsidies. The result has been worth the effort : because of such restructuring, our economy today has much better fundamentals, and much more resilient in withstanding the impact of global financial crisis.
SECOND, to anticipate the Asia-Pacific century, we need to redefine the regional architecture into an open, effective, inclusive and transparent one. This is particularly important for all of us to keep up with the diplomatic, political, economic and social changes, that will move with great speed.
We have been fortunate to see the very positive growth of regional and sub-regional organizations in the region : ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN plus 3, APEC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, East Asia Summit and others. They have created a totally new diplomatic and economic environment for the region. Perhaps there will come a time – someday - when we will need to make some adjustments for a more coherent and streamlined architecture. For the time being, however, we need to ensure that they all blossom as pillars of regional order.
We must now promote a regional architecture in which geo-economics of cooperation is prevalent, in contrast with the geo-politics of division of the past. This geo-economics should drive nations to work together as mutual stakeholders, on the basis of common interests, driven by new opportunities. We have had plenty of examples of the transformational power of economic cooperation, bilaterally, sub-regionally and regionally.
This new geo-economics must also include the ability to turn potential conflict into potential cooperation. It must also once again include public-private partnerships for win-win cooperation – turning challenges to opportunities. The success of the Great Mekong Sub-Regional Cooperation, involving 6 coun-tries, is one inspiring example of how nations creatively work together, to manage much needed resources.
THIRD, the Asia Pacific century will also need to evolve a dynamic equilibrium.
We are fortunate that for the first time in a long time, relations among the major powers are marked by peace, stability and cooperation. But new power centers are growing rapidly, and power relationships are changing, and becoming much more fluid.
It is pertinent that these evolving power relationships do not lead to new strategic tension, destabilizing rivalries, or worse, new conflicts. Instead, we must make sure that they lead to growing confidence, more cooperation, and even closer integration.
One way to ensure such healthy dynamic equilibrium is to transform relationships into partnerships.
Indeed, I am heartened to see the remarkable proliferation of partnerships among nations in Asia Pacific. Whatever they name it – strategic partnership, comprehensive partnership, economic partnership, 21st century partnership – it is healthy and positive and spreading. We in Indonesia have also done this : in recent years, we have developed new comprehensive and strategic partnerships with about a dozen countries, some of which we had had difficult relations with in the past.
Evolving creative partnership is the more so important because in the coming decades, the scramble for resources will be certain to intensify. Energy demand in Asia-Pacific will rise by 30 % by 2030. Food production should rise by 70 % to meet global demand by 2050. Water will become more scarce. The quest by nations to find, secure, expand and sustain their development resources will define the Asia Pacific century.
FOURTH, the Asia-Pacific century must be built on the fast-changing social landscape that some say are even more powerful than the 20th century revolution.
We are living in the age of connectivity, the age of information and openness. Traditional hierarchies are being matched by new networks of individuals and organizations in a borderless world. Every individual with the right digital tools can become his own voice in the market place of ideas. In Indonesia alone, our people have become the largest users of facebook and twitter in Asia. All this is fundamentally changing politics, markets and society.
We are now living in a time when connections between individuals, peoples and organizations are much more intense than the official connections between governments. We are yet to comprehend the long-term implications of this.
But surely, the Asia-Pacific century will need to accommodate and embrace this revolutionary change in our social landscape. As this is a short, medium and long-term trend, Asia-Pacific nations must factor it into our politics and economics.
We must become more people centered and recognize that greater and faster information flows will mean transparency is no longer a choice, but a must.
In the final analysis, to progress together, we need to adopt a win-win mindset, and oppose the zero-sum, win-lose approach that was predominant in the last century. In the 20th century, we witnessed proliferation of sovereignty throughout our region. In the 21st century, we will see proliferation of modernity across the Indian and Pacific oceans. Thus, we are now at a point when Asia-Pacific nations have the great opportunity to achieve the rare condition of “synergized progress” – all moving forward together in synergy.
It is also necessary for us to embrace a forward-looking mindset. For all the things that happened in the past, we must try to leave behind historical baggage, and move on with new approach to new partnerships and architecture.
In Indonesia, we have been in the business of change for some years now. And we know well that the business of change requires many things: it requires imagination, it requires a plan, it requires collaboration, it requires endurance, it requires political will and it requires courage.
With all the things that have changed, we have transformed our politics, becoming democratic, respectful of human rights and with greater participation by the people. We have ensured that in our nation, democracy, Islam and modernity go hand in hand.
Our economy has been transformed, with better macro-economic performance, sustained high growth and stronger fundamentals.
And our international role has also grown, with what we now call all direction foreign policy.
We have also learnt that all stakeholders must be involved and take ownership of the process.
If we all do that, I am confident that we will all see the dawn of the Asia Pacific century and have the rare opportunity to actually live it.
I thank you.