APEC seeks new strategy
US China reject trade protectionism:
SINGAPORE: Asia-Pacific leaders including the US and Chinese
Presidents Sunday pledged to reject trade protectionism and pursue a new
strategy for growth after the world’s worst economic crisis in decades.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum leaders, who together
steer more than half the global economy, also said they would persist
with hefty stimulus spending “until a durable economic recovery has
clearly taken hold”.
US President Barack Obama pressed Asian leaders at the weekend summit
in Singapore to retool their export-led economies and rebalance world
growth, or risk a “drift from crisis to crisis”.
But Obama was subject to much criticism in Singapore over his
perceived neglect of free trade, with Congress and powerful Democratic
barons in the trade union movement clamouring to protect US industry as
In a concluding declaration, the leaders said: “We firmly reject all
forms of protectionism and reaffirm our commitment to keep markets open
and refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods
“We cannot go back to ‘growth as usual’,” they added. “We need a new
growth paradigm. We need a fresh model of economic integration.
“We will pursue growth which is balanced, inclusive and sustainable,
supported by innovation and a knowledge-based economy, to ensure a
durable recovery that will create jobs and benefit our people.”
The summit’s chairman, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,
explained that “sustainable” growth meant working for an “ambitious
outcome” at Copenhagen climate talks next month. But a hastily convened
climate discussion in Singapore among key leaders — including Obama and
Chinese President Hu Jintao, representing the world’s two biggest
emitters of greenhouse gases — failed to yield any breakthrough. If thin
on specifics, the APEC declaration was a nod to Obama’s demand that US
consumers must no longer bear the brunt of stoking world demand, and
that Asians must start to spend and not hoard their export earnings.