Wednesday, October 09, 2013

APEC vows closer economic cooperation

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wrapped up its summit in Bali, Indonesia with a vow to implement responsible macroeconomic policies.

Saying global growth is too weak, APEC has renewed its commitment to work together to retain economic growth.

Most of the grouping's final declaration, read out by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was a reiteration of longstanding goals.

Present at the two-day summit were heads of 21 of the world's most dynamic economies, accounting for more than half of global trade.

It was business for them as they gathered at the Indonesian resort island. But they did more than talk trade.

President Yudhoyono said one new initiative was to consider threats to food, water and energy security from a "holistic" point of view, taking into account population growth and climate change.

He also called on the public and private sectors to collaborate closely together, while the world economy is still recovering.

He said: "Close collaboration will result in a win-win situation, especially at the time when the global recovery has yet to fully recover.

"Now that we have all these agreements and commitments, we must show to the world that APEC will continue to play a significant role in global economy.

"I believe that all APEC economies will share responsibility to live up to these commitments."

Simply put, the APEC summit is about governments making it easier for businesses - big and small - and individuals to do global business, to break down barriers to trade like tariffs.

In this respect, APEC can claim some progress.

Since 1994, average tariffs in the APEC economies have come down from about 15% to about 5% today.

The loftier target they have set themselves is free trade for all emerging markets by 2020.

On the sidelines of the trade talks, China was questioned about its pollution track record as Beijing will play host next year.

Officials said that preparations are already underway, but refused to disclose how much money the government is pouring into the project.

Zhao Huimin, director of foreign affairs of the Beijing Municipal Government, said: "Compared to when Beijing organized the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing has adopted more mature procedures and plans to tackle heavy pollution.

"By then (2014), we will adopt concrete measures with accordance to the air quality."

Some leaders also worked on improving neighbourly ties.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino met with Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying and they agreed to restart official talks over the Manila hostage crisis three years ago.

The incident left eight Hong Kong people dead.

Survivors and families of the victims are demanding an official apology and compensation from the Philippine government. -Channel News Asia

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