What Canadian Foreign Policy Can Teach the U.S. and APEC

On November 7-8, one of the year's most important international relations events took place in Honolulu, Hawaii at a high-level leaders meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization. APEC is the only high-level leaders forum in the Asia-Pacific region, and it combines viewpoints from both sides of the ocean.

Deepening trans-Pacific cooperation is a key priority with not only regional, but also global implications. A look at Canada’s foreign policy paints a picture of what positive impacts interdependence in a regional and global plan may look like. When the Canadian government engages with both the East and West, it applies a multilateral foreign policy towards two politico-economic communities to assure its interests on a global level. APEC can draw on this kind of interdependence for the mutual benefit of all members.

I recently published an article discussing Canada’s upcoming treaties with Brazil and the European Union as an example of the multilateralism of Canada’s foreign policy acting as a buffer against global shocks through the diversification of relations. APEC was founded in 1989 precisely with this goal in mind. Over the last 22 years, it has gradually expanded to include a wider variety of issues (e.g. security and agriculture), which may ultimately turn it into a legitimate international body.

For Canada, participation in the APEC decision-making structure includes chairmanship of various working groups and the possibility to expand dialogue with member-states over salient issues.

Canadian foreign policy focuses on terrorism, infectious diseases, and international energy issues. As interdependent as our world already is, this foreign policy model addresses questions that have systemic, rather than isolated effects: Diseases don’t need passports to cross borders, and stateless terrorism has no boundaries. Addressing both issues requires multilateral action.

There are many issues in the Asia-Pacific region which would benefit from more integration between states: missile defence between America and Russia; the economic tensions and dependencies between Washington and Beijing; the hot potato that is North Korea; and the status of American security guarantees in Southeast Asia in light of the budgetary pressures Washington faces.

America need not shoulder all of the work in the Pacific; Canada offers a good model that Washington can apply, on a larger scale of course, to affect positive changes in the region. Building common economic and security spaces will give room for emerging powers, such as China, Indonesia, and Mexico to have more influence fitting their expanding global stakes, put American interests in a multilateral framework, and reduce overall tensions. Through multilateralism, America can improve its image in the region and give weight to the interests of other states. This kind of action will also further de-legitimate the authoritarian regimes that exist in Myanmar and North Korea.

I would even go as far as to propose the amero eventually becoming a single currency in the Americas. To make it happen, one needs a Canadian perspective on things.

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