Leaders from 21 countries of the Pacific Rim are meeting in Viet Nam to discuss trade and security problems. It is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

All the big shots are there: Putin, Bush, Howard, Hu Jintao of China, Shinto Abe of Japan, and our own Gloria (President Arroyo of the Philippines), who will try to ease things between East and West, especially in terrorism.
I am sometimes amused about the US press and the European press (AKA German and French press) that always views the US as a rival to them, and yet they assume that the US should “respect” Europe, meaning France and Germany.

Yet, as an Asian, I am amazed at the failure of the US press to follow the Asian tiger economies, or notice that both the US and Australia are active in both trading and security of the Pacific rim.

HERE is a fact sheet on the APEC countries…It was founded only in 1989, but includes the following countries:

Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Republic of the Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; Viet Nam.
That’s a lot of countries with a lot of different levels of development, and a lot of different priorities for their people.

Some of the things discussed will be trade barriers and security for shipping and transportation, and also there will be policy papers about decreasing corruption. Another thing that is not officially to be discussed but probably will come up is cooperation against International terrorism.
Trade has greatly changed Asia in the past fifteen years, as These maps posted on the Futurist blog shows clearly. Most of Asia is now in the “yellow” group, i.e. no severe poverty.

Yes, there is lots of poverty in the Philippines. But you see, I have a comparison: I worked in Africa 30 years ago and saw abject poverty. Next to Africa, the poverty here in the Philippines is much less severe. it is not pervasive. And things are slowly improving, not going backward. And now there is a growing middle class. What is needed now is more investments, more education, and improving the infrastructure outside the major cities.
One good thing about this being held in Viet Nam is that that country is gradually opening to trade, and one hopes freedom. Culturally, Viet Nam is quite simliar to the Philippines, and a lot of Pinoy doctors worked as volunteers treating civilians during the Viet Nam war.
There are a lot of “MEGO” (my eyes glaze over) details in various articles HERE and HERE. But what does it mean to the average small business person in the Philippines, or other growing coutnries?
What it comes down to is that they are hoping to make the equivalent of NAFTA here, and integrate the economies. This will have good and bad effects. Cheap imports from China and poorer SE Asian countries have hurt the Philippine economy, in the short term it might harm the local economy, but in the long term, investment and trade should increas prosperity.

I’ll give a personal example on how these things work.

For example, our “chicken farm” usually loses money because of cheap imports from Thailand force us to sell underprice.
But our organic rice is now booming, being sold to the growing sophisticated local middle class, and we are investigating exporting to Korea and Japan.

So trade works both ways, and the hope is that such trade summits will improve all our lives.

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