Colombian President Jose Manuel Santos said his country was seeking membership at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which has placed a moratorium on memberships after complications in the criteria rose.
“That’s precisely why I am here,” the Colombian leader said during the APEC Summit Focus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship that discussed “The Next New Frontier” at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City. “We’ve been knocking on APEC’s door for the last 25 years. I hope the moratorium ends, and I hope next year, it would be lifted in Peru and we will be accepted.”
When he was still Colombia’s minister of foreign trade from 1991 to 1994, Santos was already “trying to get closer relations with Asia Pacific countries.”
Still without the membership, the Colombian president said he is “very honored” to be the only non-APEC member economy to be invited to this summit.
He argued that Colombia has a “great future” with “a lot of room” to grow in terms of trade and investment in Asia Pacific countries.
Santos said that Colombia is the “leading country in Latin America,” whose economy grew the fastest last year.
He added that it is also “bringing down poverty more than any other country.”
“We want to diversify. Therefore, for us to get into APEC is a priority and I hope my presence here will help,” Santos said.
Issues regarding the criteria for membership in the organization pushed APEC to issue a 10-year moratorium on membership in 1997.
But by the end of 2007, the moratorium was extended until 2010.
Among the APEC’s 21 member economies, only three countries–Chile, Peru and Mexico–come from South America, while no country from South Asia, including India, the 12th largest economy in the world, is a member.
Other APEC member-nations include the Philippines, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, China, Papua New Guinea, Russia and Vietnam.
Founded in 1989, APEC aims to enhance economic prosperity in the region through non-binding agreements that work to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers in the Pacific Rim.
APEC member-economies account for 40 percent of the world’s population, 54 percent of the global gross domestic product, and an estimated 44 percent of world trade.