As Thailand Hosting, Experts Weigh in on APEC’s Achievements and Challenges.

    Experts Assess the Benfits and Challenges of Hosting #APEC.

    Report and photo by Pravit Rojanaphruk.

    Experts on Tuesday discuss opportunities and benefits of the upcoming APEC 2022 Summit in Bangkok during a symposium entitled “APEC-Thailand 2022: Challenges and Achievement” jointly organised by Thammasat University’s Pridi Banomyong International College and Matichon, the sister daily of Khaosod English, at the college.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said the immediate benefits include about ten thousand participants visiting Thailand for various APEC Summit related activities since the beginning of the year until the end of this week. On top of that, said Tanee, 2,200 foreign journalists have registered and many are now in Bangkok where he will this evening host them on the boats along the Chao Phraya River.


    “Thailand has an opportunity to present its soft power, Thai food and culture. I’m hosting them on a cruise this evening.”

    Tanee added that concrete gains from the summit will include how to cooperate to prevent future outbreak of pandemic and how to facilitate better travel links.

    “Let’s be a good host. Thailand is renowned for this,” the spokesman said.

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    Other benefits to watch is how to further promote green economy. Tanee said many private corporations are better adapted to less wastage than government agencies and the issue of sustainable and green economy will be promoted further.

    As the host, Taneed pointed out to the fact that Thailand has invited three special guests namely Cambodian PM Hun Sen, as Cambodia is the current ASEAN chair, French President Emmanuel Macron, an EU leader who is keen in advancing France-EU Indo-Pacific Strategy and Crown Prince cum PM of Saudi Arabia Muhammed Bin Salman Al Saud, adding that Saudi Arabia is an energy superpower and a kingdom which has just restored full diplomatic ties with Thailand.

    “We cannot propel things forward if we do not have good fundamental bilateral ties,” Tanee explained.

    Tanee said three statements can be expected, a Bangkok Declaration, ministerial declaration and main declaration.

    Economist Anusorn Tamajai, who’s a board member of the college, said Thais should not just ask what they will gain from APEC Summit but consider long term benefits of the grouping.

    “APEC is important for the world and thus undeniably important for Thailand. Many members are major powers and together constitute over 50 percent of world trade and 2.7 billion people as well as being a region which is growing continously.”

    Anusorn casts doubt on APEC pushing for a greener economy without broad-based support from people, however.

    He also urged the Thai government to compensate workers and people affected by the shutdown of roads and banning of hawkers and vendors in parts of Bangkok for a week this week. “Where will they get their income from otherwise?” Anusorn asks, adding that in the end the loudest voices stand to gain most from the summit and they are the big businesses.

    While praising Thai diplomacy as one of the the finest in the world, the Thai government, Anusorn added, lacks new initiative that would direct APEC agenda.

    Environmental activist Wanun Permpibul from Climate Watch Thailand points out that APEC has no space for civil society or people’s participation. “People need greater solidarity” if they were to succeed in pushing on environmental issues. She added that big corporations stand to gain most from circular or green economy. “Those affected by [pollution and environmental impacts] are not gaining.”

    Former senior diplomat Kobsak Chutikul, another panelist, said the invasion of Ukraine by Russia which leads to antagonism between the US and Russia, both APEC members, could jeopardise the future of APEC itself particularly when the US plays host to APEC and if she decides not to invite Russia.

    On a lighter note, Kobsak said some refers to APEC as “Another Political Excuse for Coffee” while of late, some “foul-mouthed” foreign diplomats in Bangkok see it as “Another Prayut Election Campaign”.

    Kobsak also notes that while there exists a Business Advisory Council within APEC framework, after three decades, there is no People Advisory Council.

    Thammasat University rector Assoc Prof Gesinee Witoonchart gave an opening remark on “APEC Challenges in Women’s Empowerment” by stating that while APEC is a venue to push for greater women’s empowerment and participation, only 5.5 percent of CEOs around the world are women. In Thailand, she said, it’s 21 percent as of 2020, a slight increase from 2019.

    Broadening diversity is a challenge, said Gesinee, adding that many working women continue to have to work as a housewife at home after returning from office work. What’s more, the issue of violence against women continue to be a challenge, she added. Gasinee hopes APEC will push for greater acceptance of gender diversity because the world is where it is due to such diversity.


    The last speaker is a Chinese student of Pridi Banomyong International College. Li Zhijie from China said APEC “will make the world understand Thailand and make Thailand understand the world”.

    Ad for China, a member of APEC with President Xi Jinping arriving in Bangkok later this week, Li said China will look forward to working with its APEC partners and hoped that they will feel motivated to work with China.

    “Chinese middle class will be a bigger market for ASEAN agricultural goods and raw materials. Thailand is the most favourite Asian country.”