APEC meeting vows to seek higher-quality economic growth

 Asian and Pacific countries agreed Sunday to improve the "quality" of their growth and help put the global economy back on track from its crisis.

Beppu City

The accord was reached at a meeting of ministerial-level officials as well as industrial and academic leaders from the 21 countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

International institutions including the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank were also represented at the two-day meeting, which ended Sunday in the Japanese resort of Beppu.

It was aimed at paving the ground for APEC leaders to work out an unprecedented "growth strategy" for the region at the forum's annual summit in November in the Japanese port city of Yokohama.

"As the world's leading growth centre, the APEC region has a great responsibility for the future course of the global economy," said a statement from the co-chairmen of the meeting.

"APEC should contribute to improving the quality of growth in the global economy as well through its growth strategy, as envisaged by the APEC economic leaders last year," said the statement posted APEC's official website.

APEC leaders agreed at last year's summit in Singapore to formulate the strategy in 2010 to "shape the region's growth following the financial and economic crisis," said the statement.

APEC was launched in 1989 to promote trade and strengthen economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, which now accounts for more than half the world's economic output and 40 percent of its population.

The grouping includes Australia, China, Japan, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and seven members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"Countries in the region are exploring ways to shift their emphasis on economic development from exports to domestic demand," Japanese trade minister Masayuki Naoshima told a news conference after co-chairing the meeting.

"Japan wants to cooperate in economic development by backing infrastructure projects," said Naoshima. The other co-chairman was Satoshi Arai, the Japanese minister of state for economic and fiscal policy.

The meeting confirmed that APEC aims to achieve economic growth that is "balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure," the statement said.

Balanced growth should be led by "structural reforms" while inclusive growth features job creation -- especially for women -- human resources development and better access to finance, it added.

Energy efficiency will be the core of sustainable growth while innovative growth will be driven by an improvement in the research and development environment, the statement said.

The members of APEC can contribute to secure growth by working together in such areas as counter-terrorism, prevention of pandemic diseases and food security, the statement added.

Source: AFP

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