Saturday, November 28, 2015         


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Attendance below expectations for meeting of corporate leaders

By Andrew Gomes


The private-sector side of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation starts today in Waikiki, but registration for the APEC CEO Summit appears to fall short of expectations and past summits, according to the full list of participants.

APEC CEO Summit organizers had estimated that the two-day conference would attract 1,500 attendees, anticipating that the function, billed as the premier business event in the Asia-Pacific region, would be the best-attended in its 16-year history.

As of Tuesday, however, just shy of 900 participants were registered for the conference, according to a final list provided by organizers. The count is below the turnout for last year's CEO Summit in Yokohama, Japan, which drew more than 1,000.

Organizers did not respond to a request made Thursday morning to comment on participation in this year's CEO Summit, which is by invitation only and costs $3,800 for delegates, $1,000 for staffers and $750 for spouses to attend.

A media advisory on Tuesday also said the summit, which is planned and organized by the private sector with participation of government leaders, has "more sponsors, speakers, and dynamic interactions than ever before, underscoring the shift in business and global politics to the Pacific Century."

The CEO Summit is a series of panel discussions and networking sessions today and Saturday involving global company executives, policymakers, leaders of nations, academia, the media and others seeking to address issues facing the Asia-Pacific region.

This year's speaker lineup includes the leaders of a dozen countries, including President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The bulk of participants are corporate leaders. More than half are from the United States (301) and China (234). About 45 are from Hawaii, including close to 30 business executives and more than a dozen government agency and office representatives. Only 32 participants are coming from Japan.

Paul Kosasa, president of the local chain of ABC Stores, said the CEO Summit presents an opportunity to meet and learn from titans in business and government.

"I'm looking forward to attending something of this magnitude," he said. "I go to a lot of conferences on the mainland. It's never this epic."

The CEO Summit takes place at the Sheraton Waikiki ahead of the APEC Leaders Summit. The Hawaii APEC Host Committee welcomed some CEO Summit participants Thursday evening with a reception that included Hawaiian musicians and cultural demonstrations such as kapa cloth making, poi pounding and stone carving.

CEO Summit sessions run today and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is scheduled to address the group this afternoon. Obama is scheduled to participate Saturday morning.

A golf tournament is being organized for Sunday at Kapolei Golf Course.

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