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16 July 2009

Recovery tops agenda at Apec meet

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Trade ministers from 21 Asia Pacific economies will be in Singapore on July 21 and 22 to lay down the agenda ahead of the Apec Leaders’ Meeting in November, reported Singapore’s Straits Times.

On the cards are talks on how countries should deal with the aftermath of the financial crisis to aid recovery.

Speaking ahead of the meeting on Wednesday, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Lim Hng Kiang, said world leaders need to demonstrate political will to resist domestic pressures for protectionist measures.

When leaders met in Peru last November, the world was on the brink of a global financial meltdown. During that time, Apec leaders set a target of 18 months to overcome the crisis.

Eight months on, Lim said the world’s economy has since stabilised, but challenges remain as more than half of the APEC member economies will see a contraction in their GDP.

The upcoming post-crisis talks will, therefore, focus on growth strategies.

Lim said Apec economies, including Singapore, are unlikely to roll out a second stimulus package. What is important is to demonstrate the inclusiveness of globalisation and the positive impact it has on the lives of the average citizen.

This means fostering support for globalisation and making sure the benefits of having an open trade policy trickle down to the masses.

"We have to make sure that we have greater social resilience because if you have a better social safety net to mitigate some of the impact brought about by structural economic changes and globalisation, then I think the population is more prepared to accept continued liberalisation," said Lim.

Apec is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and over the years, the grouping’s work has reaped benefits not just for businesses but also for the common man.


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