Audrey Young 's Opinion

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young: PM moves on to next regional talks

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is welcomed by his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister John Key. Photo / AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is welcomed by his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister John Key. Photo / AP

Prime Minister John Key flies to Brunei today for the East Asia Summit and will be meeting many of the leaders he has just been with at Apec in Bali.

Sandwiched between Apec and the EAS is another meeting of the 10 Asean country leaders, a group which New Zealand is not a member of (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

The East Asia Summit is one of the newest regional clubs. New Zealand joined under the last Labour Government. There was no clear advantage at the time; the most pressing reason was that it might grow into something important New Zealand might miss out on.

Just like Apec, which there are still plenty of countries wanting to join, including India and Colombia, but it last admitted new members in 1998: Russia, Vietnam and Peru. New Zealand joined Apec at the outset.

Apec's focus is trade liberalisation. The East Asia Summit focus is wider; leaders will talk about regional questions of the moment, including security issues such as North Korea.

New Zealand pressed for EAS membership, with Australia, and once it was accepted into the club, it pressed for the United States to join.

Mr Key will use the EAS summit to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today for the first time.

Essentially, the East Asia Summit is a vehicle for the 10 Asean countries to express their collective clout. And the membership of the group shows just what clout it has.

It's Asean plus eight: United States, China, Russia, India, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Asean has a rotating chairmanship. This year it's Brunei; next year, Burma.

Its biggest step was launching in Cambodia last year a set of free trade talks known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, RCEP.

The RCEP includes China but not the US, which is effectively leading the Trans Pacific Partnership talks.

Alphabet soup

* All 12 countries involved in the TPP trade talks belong to Apec but not all 21 Apec nations are in the talks.

* All 16 countries involved in the RCEP trade talks belong to the East Asia Summit but two members of the EAS, Russia and the US, are not involved in the RCEP.

* Seven countries are involved in both the TPP and RCEP, including New Zealand.

* All 10 members of Asean are in the 18-strong East Asia Summit.

* Three members of Asean are not members of Apec: Burma, Cambodia, Laos.

* Only one country in the East Asia Summit, India, is not part of Apec or Asean.

- NZ Herald

Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor, a job she has held since 2003. She is responsible for the Herald’s Press Gallery team. She first joined the New Zealand Herald in 1988 as a sub-editor after the closure of its tabloid rival, the Auckland Sun. She switched to reporting in 1991 as social welfare and housing reporter. She joined the Herald’s Press Gallery office in 1994. She has previously worked as a journalism tutor at Manukau Technical Institute, as member of the Newspapers in Education unit at Wellington Newspapers and as a teacher in Wellington. She was a union nominee on the Press Council for six years.

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