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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The staging of APEC Chartrand, Lise L.

Abstract

In 1993, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) held the first APEC Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM). Raising APEC interaction to the top track, the level of leaders, proved to be an effective and powerful dynamic; the AELM continues to meet annually and to shape APEC policy. The focus on the AELM as the source of vision and direction reinforces the pivotal importance of this political assemblage, reassures the populace that leaders do prevail and all is well: essential ingredients, according to Clifford Geertz, of political theater. The role of journalists, the contemporary scribes or critics, is to inform the audience of this political drama. The objective of this research is to demonstrate that real political value exists in the 'Staging of APEC' in terms of effective economic and political integration of benefit to broad regional interests. The findings draw on the results of a content analysis of news reports covering the first six years of the AELM (1993-1998). Formally, the AELM is an opportunity for regional political leaders to engage in regional policy formation outlined by the pillars of APEC (trade liberalization, facilitation and cooperation) guided by the principals of open regionalism and concerted unilateralism. Activity on the formal, or main stage, also flows to the small stage where leaders merge in a neutral venue. On this stage, leaders are free to examine distinctly non-economic, yet intersecting interests including domestic agendas, human rights and pluri-lateral security concerns. Together, these dual stages, neither one complete without the other, form the political theatre of APEC and provide the value added for the leaders and ultimately for the Asia – Pacific region.

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