Apec agrees to work on free trade
Yokohama – Leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Co-operation (APEC) forum have pledged to move towards creating a regional free-trade area.
The agreement was announced at the end of a two-day summit in Yokohama, Japan.
The move would link the world’s three biggest economies – the United States, Japan and China.
However, deep differences remain – chiefly between the US and China – over trade imbalances and currency distortions.
Washington wants to increase its own exports to the region, and believes China’s cheap currency is a barrier to that goal.
Chinese President Hu Jintao has said any change will only be made at Beijing’s own pace.
In their final declaration, Apec leaders reaffirmed their “unwavering commitment to achieving free and open trade and investment in the region”.
They also pledged to take “concrete steps toward realising a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific”, but gaven no timetable.
The declaration – entitled Yokohama Vision – also rejected many fresh barriers to trade and investment. (BBC)