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APEC summit in Peru to focus on regional challenges
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The leaders and representatives from 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will gather in Peru later this month to collaborate in addressing the challenges facing the region, a senior APEC official said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Juan Carlos Capunay, executive director of the APEC Secretariat in Singapore, told Xinhua that the 16th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, which will take place from Nov. 22-23 in the Peruvian capital of Lima, is a very important event that will help strengthen the dialogue, exchange, coordinated actions and cooperation among member economies to handle the challenges.

Under the theme of "A New Commitment to Asia-Pacific Development", participants will discuss the issues such as the ongoing financial crisis, human security initiatives, food and energy security, climate change, structural reform and corporate social responsibility, he said.

According to the director, prior to the APEC Leader's Meeting, related events to be held in Lima will include: APEC Concluding Senior Officials' Meeting, APEC Business Advisory Council, APEC Ministers' Meeting and APEC CEO Summit.

What APEC tries to do is to bring the organization to the ground, to help the ordinary people, he said, adding that APEC Peru 2008 will consider the social dimension of free trade and investment.

Carlos also stressed the importance of small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as the partnerships between public and private sectors, saying that SMEs employ a significant amount of the Asia-Pacific population but represent only a minimal percentage of exports, this equation has to be changed.

As for the APEC reform, Carlos said that the reform process has already started and what the most important thing is to try to introduce APEC a new impetus in order to contribute to the development of Asia-Pacific.

"The APEC reform, of course, is not just a bilateral issue, I am sure that this reform will continue because this reform has to be more substantial," he said.

When asked about how Asia Pacific countries can handle the financial crisis? he said that the current financial crisis is a very complex one, it is not only originated by the breakdown of some financial institutions, but also by the consequences of oil and food price hike that affects the economy of the whole region.

Carlos said that the 1997 Asian financial crisis is a good reference, and people have learnt many lessons from the crisis.

He believes that China will play a very important role in dealing with the financial crisis, saying that it is critical for China to keep buying and investing in projects.

"China will play a very important role, it balances the capital market in the whole region, and the economy of the region can ride on China's development," he said.

On the stalled Doha round of negotiations, Carlos said that a number of situations have made it as it is today after seven years, there is on agreement at the end, there is no solution to push forward the whole process of the negotiations.

Carlos emphasized that APEC can not just let everything pending until the conclusion of the Doha negotiations, and APEC can do something to help resume the trade talks.

"In the short term, we should give clear, strong and full support to the Doha negotiations, and at the same time, we should, in the long term, pursue the establishment of Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area, this will promote regional trade and give the Doha negotiations a new impetus," he said.

APEC, which was established in Australia in 1989, currently has 21 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, China's Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. The chairmanship rotates among its members with Peru holding the chair this year.

(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2008)

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