Asia-Pacific Nations’ Summit to Focus on Global Economic Recovery

By David McKeeby

LIMA(RushPRnews)15/11/08–Progress toward free trade and open investment is essential to address the global financial crisis and will take center stage when President Bush joins other leaders at the November 22 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ conference, says a top U.S. official.
“We need to work together to make the case for free trade and increased investment flows, to ensure that there is a firm foundation for tomorrow’s recovery,” Ambassador Patricia Haslach told journalists in a November 10 briefing on the meeting.

Leaders from the 21-member body will meet November 22 in Lima, Peru, to discuss the financial crisis, as well as to assess APEC’s progress toward economic integration aimed ultimately at creating “a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific,” Haslach said. That goal that must not be disrupted by tightening credit, slumping stock markets and flagging consumer confidence, she said.

“There is a tendency to react by putting brakes on overseas investment, by having second thoughts about economic openness, by talking about putting up barriers in hopes of protecting jobs. We must firmly reject such an approach,” Haslach said. “A robust trade and investment agenda will positively contribute to our ability to address this truly unprecedented global crisis.”

The meeting follows a gathering of APEC finance ministers in Trujillo, Peru, November 5-6 that discussed the crisis and a scheduled November 15 meeting of leaders from the G20 leading economies in Washington.

The United States is among nine G20 nations that are also members of APEC, along with Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia and South Korea.

“Trade and investment have been the key drivers of economic growth and development in our region, and we need to stay on track,” Haslach said. “There are a lot of challenges out there, but we think that this is still the best path toward prosperity for both the developed and the developing economies within APEC.”

APEC has helped economies across the region, Haslach said, by building new partnerships to reduce transaction costs among regional businesses and spearheading regulatory reforms to make APEC member nations more attractive to investors. Members will take stock of both initiatives, Haslach said, as well as explore ways to reduce food prices in the region by encouraging trade in food commodities and new investments in biotechnology.

APEC’s member economies include nearly 3 billion consumers, accounting for 60 percent of global gross domestic product, as well as 60 percent of U.S. exports, Haslach said, making the body a premier venue for America’s economic engagement with the region.

“At a time of economic anxiety, APEC’s work proves that globalization is not something to be feared, but rather an opportunity to be seized,” Haslach said.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Photo: AP

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