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APEC eyes on Hatoyama: Drysdale

12 October, 2009

Australian National University Emeritus Professor and APEC architect Peter Drysdale believes Japan will be in the spotlight at the APEC meeting in Singapore next month.

Drysdale sees Hatoyama as not only facing a challenge in jockeying for a major role amidst the US and Russia, but also for pushing through the Bogor goals for trade and investment liberalisation in developed economies.

Indeed, this will be the ultimate litmus test of Hatoyama’s commitment to achieving greater regional economic integration and development by showing leadership in removing Japan’s trade barriers in agriculture. As Drysdale states argues,

The Hatoyama government must be prepared to test new ideas about how to deal with Japan’s agricultural problem, since agricultural trade protection is the major stumbling block to Japan’s leadership in regional trade liberalisation. That will require an entirely new approach to Japan’s residual barriers to agricultural trade at the border.

Yet Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan’s pre-election changes to their manifesto to water down trade liberalisation goals suggests this may indeed be an elusive goal. It would not be the first time that domestic politics prevent leaders from taking the initiative in global affairs.

Having shown bold leadership in committing Japan to emission reduction goals at the UN climate summit, Hatoyama now has the chance to carry this momentum forward. Likewise, Kevin Rudd can show APEC leaders that even amidst a major economic downturn, governments do not need to turn to raising trade barriers (see previous post) to ensure their nation’s recovery.

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