Source: East-West Center’s News Center
HONOLULU (Nov. 14) – President Barack Obama’s selection of Honolulu as the site for the annual APEC Leaders Meeting in November 2011 means that Hawai‘i will both open the U.S. year of hosting APEC with an agenda-setting conference, as well as close the year with the huge Ministerial and Leaders meetings.
President Obama announced Hawai‘i’s winning bid today at this year’s APEC Leaders Meeting, currently being held in Singapore. Honolulu had already been selected to host the first event, an academic and government officials’ conference and an informal senior officials meeting to be held at the East-West Center in December 2010. Several other smaller ministerial and senior official meetings will be held in other U.S. cities.
East-West Center President Charles E. Morrison, who coordinated the Hawai‘i bid for APEC 2011 and who is currently attending APEC meetings in Singapore, commented: “With at least 19 heads of state, double or triple that number of ministers and many others coming, the annual APEC gathering is one of the world’s largest intergovernmental meetings. The Leaders Meeting in 2011 will be by far the largest such gathering in Hawai‘i’s history.”
APEC, or the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, is the premier forum for Asia-Pacific economies to cooperate on regional trade and investment issues. Its annual Leaders and Ministerial meetings are attended by heads of state, cabinet ministers, business leaders and the heads of the World Bank and World Trade Organization, among many others. The Hawai‘i meetings, scheduled for November 12-20, 2011 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, are expected to draw more than 10,000 people to Honolulu, a welcome boost for the state’s struggling tourism industry.
“APEC 2011 will be a big economic boost and provide huge publicity benefits for Hawai‘i,” Morrison said. “There are lots of preparations to be made over the next two years to maximize the benefits of this meeting, including its longer-term implications as a new business opportunity for Hawai‘i. The Singapore APEC meeting now going on shows that, with good planning, APEC can have many benefits without disrupting normal social and business activity.”
APEC’s annual Leader’s Meeting is hosted each year by a different member economy; 2011 is the United States’ first turn to host since the first meeting convened on Blake Island, Washington in 1993.
Morrison noted that federal officials were impressed by the ease of working with Hawai‘i. “I believe that among the many factors contributing to our selection was the close cooperation between the governor, the mayor, our congressional delegation led by Senator Inouye, and the business and tourism communities,” he said. “It is a lot simpler for federal authorities to work with a unified city/county government like Honolulu’s, which is also just a short walk from the governor’s office.”
He added: “The fact that the president is inviting his counterpart leaders to his native town is taken in many cultures as showing guests the highest respect, and Hawai‘i is the world’s most diverse Asia-Pacific community.”