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APEC blazing trails in aftermath of financial crisis

11-12-2010 08:49 BJT Special Report:President Hu Attends APEC Summit in Yokohama |

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is laying out an array of measures to help the region stay ahead as much of the world is still reeling from the global economic downturn.

Ministers of the 21-member APEC group agreed in a joint statement Thursday that trade liberalization in the region will be achieved through further economic integration and that concrete steps towards realizing a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific ( FTAAP) had been made.

The ministers said it has been two years since the onset of the global financial crisis and since then, efforts made by Pacific- rim economies and the international community have put the global economy back on track towards recovery.

The APEC region has been leading global economic growth in spite of the crisis and has been actively contributing to overcoming it. However, the forum also recognizes that the crisis has yet to end and the global economic recovery remains fragile.

"We are now facing a new economic landscape and must face the challenges of addressing volatility, creating employment and reconsolidating finance," the ministerial statement said.

The document also said efforts should be made to maintain a balance between recovery and the exit strategies of fiscal and monetary policies,

Throughout 2010, the APEC has been formulating a new growth strategy in the Asia-Pacific region in the wake of the global financial crisis. This strategy provides the framework for promoting "high-quality" growth in the region.

Secretariat executive director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, Muhamad Noor, said in a written interview with Xinhua that the strategy supports more balanced growth within and across economies, promotes greater inclusiveness in societies and addresses the challenges of environmental and energy sustainability.

The official said the strategy also seeks to raise growth potential in the region through innovation and a knowledge-based economy and seeks to protect the region's citizens' economic and physical wellbeing.

In terms of enhancing economic partnerships throughout the region, Noor highlights the importance of exploring the prospects of freer trade initiatives. "An important part of APEC's work is trade and investment facilitation, and this is one area in which we have put particular focus on," he said.

Noor said, as one element of APEC's regional economic integration agenda, member economies have been exploring a range of possible pathways towards a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which is a long term prospect for the region.

The APEC has been working to identify the changes needed for further growth and prosperity in the region and to take concrete actions to achieve them.

"We believe it is time for us to share a growth strategy to sustain recovery and to lay the foundation for our future prosperity," the ministers said in their joint statement Thursday, echoing Noor's sentiments.

"The APEC, as the world's leading growth center, is in a unique position to carry out such a task," they added.

The ministers noted that this growth strategy will help achieve a higher quality of growth with a view to realizing sustained and enhanced prosperity in the region.

The document will be submitted to economic leaders for consideration and adoption ahead of this weekend's summit, which begins on Saturday and will be attended by leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

The strategy and aim of the FTAAP purports to accelerate economic growth and trade cooperation in the region and to contribute to member economies' consolidating their status as a global "growth center."

APEC member economies account for around 50 percent of the world's GDP and 40 percent of both the world's population and world trade.

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: Xinhua

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