The Economic Leaders' Meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is expected to send a strong message of support for multilateral trading systems, including the launch of a new round of World Trade Organization talks.
It was revealed by Wang Guangya on October 14, chair of APEC Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM), who said fighting economic slowdown has been a priority issue at APEC meetings since the beginning of this year and has attracted more attention after the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11.
APEC members are determined to become united to move forward to implement the Bogor Goals and push forward the Ecotech (economic and technical cooperation) agenda even taking into account all uncertainties, all slowdowns and difficulties.
"It will be a strong message coming from this APEC meeting," said Wang, also China's vice-foreign minister, in Shanghai.
"We want this region to recover. We want to see more economic growth in this region and we want other regions to believe that the Asia-Pacific region is still hopeful and confident in its economic prospects," he added.
APEC accounts for 45 per cent of the world's population and nearly half of all global trade.
APEC SOM are held regularly prior to every ministerial meeting. The SOM makes recommendations to ministers and carries out their decisions.
Senior officials have previously held formal meetings in Beijing in February, Shenzhen in June and Dalian in August.
Wang said the two-day informal meeting of senior officials, starting today, will focus on preparation for the final documents: the leaders' declaration, the ministerial statement and the statement by leaders on terrorist activities. It will try to wrap up what has been discussed and see if there is any area that has not been touched upon during the last three sessions.
APEC economic leaders are expected to exchange views on terrorist activities under the agenda item on the regional and global economic situation. Wang said the adjustment to the agenda "is only natural" since the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will be the first gathering by leaders following the terrorist attack and people all feel there are negative implications for the regional and world economy after the terrorist attacks.
First established as a loose 12-member forum in 1989 to promote open markets and globalization, APEC has been a catalyst to removing trade barriers on a wide range of goods in the region, and has expanded to 21 members.
The Bogor Goals, formed in 1994, state that developed and developing economies will realize trade and investment liberalization in 2010 and 2020 respectively.
With more members joining APEC, Ecotech has become another pillar of APEC process.
But there has always been a lack of interest and specific activities in support of the Ecotech agenda though it has been much talked about a lot over the past couple of years, Wang said.
APEC activities for this particular year have been pushed forward on several fronts to make sure that the process of APEC this year is furthered on a balanced basis, Wang said.
The leading regional economic forum has made progress on the trade and in vestment liberalization and facilitation agenda by sending a strong message into trade areas.
It has also carried out a number of activities and made substantial progress on pushing forward the Ecotech agenda.
China, as host of APEC meetings this year, is trying to bring together the interests and concerns of different APEC members and striving to create a win-win system, he said.
"As chair, you have to be both neutral and creative," he said.
By successfully hosting these APEC meetings, Wang believed links, exchanges and cooperation between China and other APEC members will be strengthened.
"It will be beneficial to Chinese reform and opening-up," he added.
Some 70 per cent of China's export earnings come from other APEC member economies and 70 per cent of overseas investment poured into China comes from this region.
Taking into account the economic slowdown in the United States, the lingering stagnation of the Japanese economy and a number of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economies still in difficulty after the 1997 financial crisis, Wang said this year was not easy for APEC and its host China.
But Wang said China wants to make sure that this year would be a forward-looking one through the support of all APEC members. "A year where we can set agenda for APEC not only for this particular year, but also for the years to come," Wang said.
He regarded being SOM chair this year as a learning process. Wang has studied more economic matters to become familiar with all those terms and issues with particular focus on the background to each issue.
"I have enjoyed being the SOM chair for this particular year," Wang said, adding that it has given him a different angle from which to look at global issues.
( China Daily 10/15/2001)