Dodwell's blog on SOM1 Ningbo - Post 5

February 25, 2014

Our Chinese APEC chair has the most surprising talent for springing surprises. Today, for example, as we meandered to the close of a rather content-light Market Access Group, the Malaysian MAG chair passed over to the Chinese official present for the final agenda item – Date of next meeting. Hardly climactic material. Most of us were half listening as we packed our papers away. But then I could hardly believe my ears: “The next MAG will be in September at a date we have yet to finalise during SOM3. We will tell you the place when we know it.”
With chair’s permission, I flicked on the microphone: “Do you mean you don’t know whether the meeting is in Harbin or not? Or that you don’t know the hotel?”
No smile: “The meeting will be in China. We will tell you the city when we know.”
What? Not Harbin? I thought all the SOM3 meetings were going to be in Harbin. That is what was announced in Beijing at iSOM in December.
So I lurched around to our ABAC Executive Director, who just happened to be in the room nearby: “What’s going on?”
In sum, for reasons unknown, it now seems that all of the SOM3 meetings will NOT be in Harbin after all. Or maybe they will. And maybe the dates will change. Oh, how intriguing. We will no doubt learn more in the coming days as we edge to the end of every other APEC Working Group meeting, and bump into that innocent little final agenda item: “Date of next meeting”.
For now, delete Harbin from your diaries, and cancel all other travel plans around that time. And if for any reason you have booked a flight or a hotel room, unbook and stand by for new instructions. Meanwhile, and completely selfishly, I hope our Finance Ministerial from September 10-12 in Hong Kong remains intact.

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