This could easily be labelled Week of the Summits. There are two big ones _ the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) event, followed almost immediately by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, senior government officials and heads of government and industry, from more than two dozen countries, will attend the meetings. But the obvious, if seldom asked, question is, "why"?
Asean is our most important regional group. Founded in 1967, it is arguably slow, ponderous and difficult to move. But the group has made real achievements, leading up to the 2016 Asean Economic Community. Perhaps even more importantly, it has created a zone of trust. Out of the late 20th century's chaos and constant warfare, a hugely more peaceful Southeast Asia has emerged, despite major ideological differences of the member countries and governments.
Apec, with Thailand as an important founding member in the days of the Chuan Leekpai government, is also an achiever. Most countries of the Pacific Rim are members. The group has focused mainly on trade and commerce, but it has made important decisions at key times of political upheaval such as after the 9/11 attacks on the US, and in the recent worldwide recession. Apec's Business Advisory Council has set up a parallel organisation where private industry acts as both adviser and lobbyist to governments.
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