Dodwell's blog on SOM2 Qingdao - Post 5

May 24, 2014

APEC Austerity
The really bad news out of Qingdao was how the financial squeeze since the global financial crash of 2008 has exerted a massive squeeze on APEC project funding. Out of almost 130 projects in search of funding, less than 30 were successful in attracting funds. The warning from Qingdao was that funding pressures are unlikely to lift any time soon. There is likely to be an increasing reliance on self-funded projects (where, in proposing a project, an economy agrees to provided necessary funding). Since APEC’s unique contribution is in its huge programme of capacity-building activity, and many of the projects in search of funding are workshops aimed at such capacity-building, then this funding squeeze is no small matter.
Looking over the horizon, funding pressures are expected to get much worse before they get batter – not just because of post-2008 austerities, but because after the Philippine chairmanship of APEC next year, APEC chair in 2016 will be Peru. For both the APEC Secretariat and most officials across APEC, the cumulative cost of attending lots of meetings in south America tends to be significantly higher than usual. Already, the APEC secretariat is looking at the potential of more “virtual” participation in meetings to ease some of the budgetary pressure. They are also scrutinising the activities of the Working Groups, and encouraging them to cut from three to two meetings a year. More of us will be flying around the region in the congested back rows of economy-class cabins. Times are hard, and may get harder.

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