Progress Expected From Discussions

Ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies zeroed on measures to pull the region out of one of its most widespread recession in recent memory, while also making efforts to tackle anti-terrorism, Malaysia's foreign minister said yesterday.

APEC foreign and trade ministers focused largely on economic cooperation to combat the world economic slowdown, which they considered the "fundamental" issue, during the first day of the two-day Ministerial Meeting that started yesterday, said Syed Hamid Albar.

"Discussions focused mostly on economic cooperation while also taking time to address it (anti-terrorism)," Albar told APEC Today. "This is the time for the APEC to show its resolve and cooperate together to pick up economic growth."

Yesterday's discussions included promoting the launch of a new round of trade liberalization talks at the forthcoming ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), individual action plans of member economies, as well as the Bogor Goals.

Substantial progress was expected from the APEC Shanghai meetings - which will culminate in a gathering of leaders of its member economies - on unifying member economies in the face of financial woes, as the region's biggest informal forum becomes increasingly productive despite being criticized of being a mere talking shop.

"There is no rhetoric," the Malaysian official said. "It's more business-like."

Ministers also talked about anti-terrorism measures, which the United States has been pushing for in the wake of terrorist attacks last month in New York and Washington, giving APEC members an opportunity to "work together in ironing out what is needed to be done in order to see that APEC moves forward," he said.

But the official said the APEC should remain a forum of economic discussion so that there would be "meaningful and effective" cooperation among member economies to ensure economic growth.

"Because of terrorism, there is an urgency, there is a need for cooperation," he said, but "the fact is that we would be better off making APEC an effective forum for economic cooperation."

Elsewhere, the foreign minister called for more contribution from developed member economies of APEC in helping developing economies cope with an urgent lack of ability to reap the benefits of globalization and the new economy.

(China Daily 10/18/2001)

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