APEC expectations: KTVU talks with top diplomat and UC Berkeley expert

San Francisco will be in the international spotlight as it prepares to host the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit or APEC from November 11 - 17th, with heads of state and top leaders from the 21 member economies and tens of thousands of delegates.

"This is the largest event that's ever happened in San Francisco since the founding of the United Nations...and It's at the security level of a Presidential Inauguration," said Rana Sarkar, Consul General of Canada in San Francisco.

Sarkar also is the Dean of the San Francisco Consular Corps, which includes representatives of 72 countries with a consular presence in San Francisco.

"It was very exciting that SF was chosen as the host city because it really typifies the next phase of not just the U.S. economy but the global economy," said Sarkar, "There's a tremendous amount of interest in the AI ecosystem particularly, but also more generally in technology from chips to autonomous vehicles and all of the work that San Francisco has been doing over the course of decades."

Sarkar says many consulates have been working to help APEC leaders hoping to connect this week with the Bay Area's tech companies and ecosystem in San Francisco.

"We're all working toward how we can build a sustainable economy that's fair and open...and we see progress for the global middle class," said Sarkar.

Along APEC's Summit with top diplomats, there will be some 1,200 CEOs of major banking, manufacturing, energy, and tech companies who also will be in the city for the concurrent APEC CEO summit.

"They're going to be visiting here from around the world, and they're going to be looking at San Francisco through the lens of investment. And this is still a great investment. This city is a piece of gold," said Alex Bastian, President and CEO of the Hotel Council of San Francisco.

Bastian says the city's hospitality industry is already seeing the effects of hosting the tens of thousands of APEC visitors.

"The benefits to the hotels are also the benefit to our workers and also a benefit for the city's tax base. And so some of the hotels around Moscone are fully booked," said Bastian.

"It's good for California, given 53% of our trade goes to Asia," said UC Berkeley professor of political science Vinnie Aggarwal, who also serves as Director of Berkeley's APEC Study Group. 

He says hosting the summit is a win for San Francisco and the state.

"It's good for California, given 53% of our trade goes to Asia," said Professor Aggarwal.

He says while APEC failed to create a free trade zone, it has become an important forum for international issues.

"Green technology, advanced technology such as quantum and AI...discussing inequality, the digital infrastructure, inclusion," said Aggarwal, "I think it's dealing with a whole host of issues and not just trade anymore."

Aggarwal says one area that could mark a big success for the summit is if the U.S. can reconsider entering into trade partnerships with Asia and Europe. He also says the meeting between President BIden and China's President Xi could be another big win if they can reach an agreement on trade.

"A second big win, if President Biden and President Xi agree to start working towards ameliorating the conflict we see between the United States and China," said Aggarwal.

There might be more difficult and delicate diplomacy next week.

The Chronicle reports that the U.S. State Department confirmed that some officials from Russia might be attending the APEC summit.