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The APEC summit brought not only an unprecedented number of world leaders to Sydney; it strengthened our economy and further cemented our position in the Asia Pacific region. Executive Director from the Australian Institute of Export, Ian Murray looks at the major outcomes of APEC, and gives credit to the NSW Police and DFAT task force.

For Sydney, APEC is over. The leaders have gone home, the barriers are down and the demonstrators have moved on. While the press, including “Your ABC” seemed to focus primarily on some mindless antics and a little pedestrian inconvenience, APEC 2007 was an outstanding success.
Great credit should be given to Paul Keating, one of the architects of APEC, and to the Federal and New South Wales Governments for putting on a good show and achieving some significant outcomes.
But having 21 of the world’s top politicians in Sydney for the leaders’ conference was just the end game. APEC 2007 ran right through the year in all states of Australia. This included APEC ministerial meetings on minerals in Perth in February, transport in Adelaide in March, energy in Darwin, small business in Hobart, and health in Sydney. While trade was top of the agenda in all these discussions, specific trade issues were addressed in July in Cairns where APEC trade ministers met and when conferences were held on secure trade in APEC regions. These were followed by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting in Melbourne in August.
In total, 31 major meetings took place across the country resulting in a substantial number of decisions being considered on issues affecting our region. And, most importantly, a large number of export deals were struck in all sectors of business and in all states of Australia.
While it was the final announcements in Sydney that made the news, these outcomes resulted from many thousands of hours of negotiation by teams here in Australia and by other member countries. Australia’s largest single export deal was announced, with agreement between Woodside Energy and PetroChina for the supply of liquefied natural gas to China. This 20-year deal is worth up to $45 billion in export revenue to Australia. Another bilateral initiative was an agreement on cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes between Australia and Russia. Leaders also agreed to address emissions reductions, making it the first time the United States, China, and Russia have agreed to aspirational goals that include a decrease in energy intensity of 25 percent by 2030.
One of the most important issues here is the significance of APEC to the Australian economy. Some 50 percent of world trade is undertaken by these 21 countries. It is the fastest growing region in the world. Moreover, it contributes 50 percent to our export earnings and even more to total trade. Apart from the fact that hosting APEC brought an unprecedented number of world leaders to Sydney, and some good trade deals, there was one often overlooked benefit to Australia. It further cemented our position in the Asia Pacific region and took us one big step forward as being seen by world leaders as part of Asia.
And finally, who are the unsung heroes of APEC 2007? The first group has to be the DFAT Task Force who worked tirelessly for two years to make the leaders’ meeting and the many lead-up programs a huge success. Thanks is also due to the NSW Police who certainly kept things under control, and the NSW DFAT team, who I understand worked round the clock to make it all happen. Australia owes you much gratitude.

* Ian Murray is executive director of the Australian Institute of Export.

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