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World’s biggest economies worried over Europe

September 9, 2012

The 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group is worried over the impact of Europe's debt crisis on growth in the APEC region.

RUSSIA: Asia-Pacific leaders will vow Sunday to fight protectionism in an effort to defend the stuttering global economy from the eurozone crisis and multiple other threats.

The 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, meeting in the Far East Russian city of Vladivostok, includes the world’s three biggest economies — the United States, China and Japan.

A draft of the statement to be released after their two-day summit and obtained by AFP reflected worries over the impact of Europe’s debt crisis on growth in the APEC region, which accounts for nearly half of all world trade.

“The events in Europe are adversely affecting growth in the region,” it said, although it also welcomed European leaders’ commitment to “take all necessary measures” to prevent a break-up of the monetary union.

The leaders pledged in the draft statement to strengthen demand in their own countries, cut public debt and refrain from raising new trade barriers.

In a speech Saturday, Chinese President Hu Jintao said China’s own economic growth faced “notable downward pressure”, but pledged Beijing would keep the world’s second largest economy on an even keel to support global growth.

On Saturday, summit host President Vladimir Putin urged his fellow leaders from the bloc, which spans the Pacific Rim from China to Chile, to remain united amid the global pressures.

“By getting together and lifting barriers, we encourage dynamic development of the entire Asia-Pacific region and the global economy in general. It is important to build bridges, not walls,” he said.

A number of territorial rows risked overshadowing the meeting’s trade agenda, with APEC giants China and Japan, along with South Korea, Russia and others embroiled in various disputes that have fanned nationalist flames.

In the wake of the spats, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he would not hold customary talks with China’s Hu nor South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.

At a press briefing in Vladivostok on Saturday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang reaffirmed his country’s claims to Japan-controlled islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

“(The) Japan side should face squarely the strong resolve and determination of the Chinese government and people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Qin said.

US-Chinese relations are also heating up over the South China Sea, virtually all of which is claimed by Beijing. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia — all APEC members — have competing claims to parts of the sea.

China has been riled by US lobbying for a code of conduct for the strategic sea and its insistence on freedom of navigation.
A US official said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, standing in for President Barack Obama, discussed Japan’s island disputes with Noda.

She was to meet Sunday with South Korea’s Lee, who has infuriated Tokyo, a fellow US ally, by visiting disputed islands controlled by Seoul.

The US official said Clinton and Putin met separately for 15 minutes and spoke throughout a 90-minute dinner for APEC leaders Saturday, when they sat next to each other.

In their formal meeting, Clinton and Putin discussed the crisis in Syria. Moscow and Washington are sharply at odds over how much to pressure Russian ally President Bashar al-Assad, the US official said.

- AFP


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