Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

APEC: What it is and why protest

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In September 2007, Australia will host the APEC forum. APEC stands for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and in the lead up to September it plans to hold more than 100 meetings spread across every state and territory. The main event however will be held in Sydney on September 8 & 9. This will be the biggest meeting of world leaders ever held in Australia.

APEC is a group of Pacific Rim countries, which work behind closed doors, to strengthen and develop economic and political ties. APEC meetings occur without any input from civil society but are heavily lobbied by big corporations including energy giants such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Chevron and Woodside. Participants in the 2007 forum will include the US President George Bush and prime ministers from throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Established primarily to promote free trade in the region, APEC is a forum where big business leaders and their political representatives discuss how to better push the neo-liberal policies of free trade, privatisation and corporate control.

Despite the rhetoric by John Howard that climate change is on the top of the agenda, the emphasis will be on nuclear power and ‘clean coal’. These are false solutions to the environmental disasters we face. China is the world’s largest coal producer and Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter. Howard on behalf of big business seeks to secure their interests in the exportation of uranium and coal. APEC is a key opportunity to promote the interests of the Australian coal and uranium export industries through APEC’s Energy Working Group.

According to the summits statement, “APEC’s primary objective is to promote trade and investment liberalisation in the Asia-Pacific Region, thereby assisting economic growth and prosperity”. However, these leaders who represent the interests of big business, will not increase prosperity for ordinary working people, who are facing daily neo-liberal attacks on wages and conditions. In fact their policies will only mean the further robbing of the poor to line the pockets of the rich.

APEC, described by ASIO as “the most significant international meeting ever hosted by Australia” is expected to be the last international showpiece event before John Howard goes to the polls late in the year. To avoid any critical voice against this summit, the media, the government and the police are intending to create an atmosphere of fear in the city. The threat of a terrorist attack will be the excuse for a strong display of security. The Australian Government will provide its agencies with $216.3 million to host the forum.

Worker’s and students should see APEC as a chance to expose and challenge APEC’s model of corporate globalisation, that places the legal rights of corporations above those of working people and the environment. Capitalism has no solutions to the problems of poverty or environmental destruction, only a socialist society under a planned economy can tackle the crisis of climate change and improve living conditions for ordinary people.

SP will be organising a fleet of Red Buses to APEC from Melbourne to Sydney for the event. We are taking expressions of interest for seats now. In the lead up to the event we will also be holding regular organising meetings. For more information or to put your name down for a seat contact our National Office.

By SP reporters


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