Pacific Rim leaders met Sunday for the last day of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Vladivostok, Russia. As reported by the Associated Press, the 21 APEC members pledged “to fend off the deepening damage from the European crisis and revive flagging growth in the region by supporting open trade, reforming their economies and strengthening public finances.”
Alan Oxley, chairman of the national Australian APEC Study Center at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and managing director of ITS Global, told Trend Lines that, with Russia “keen to showcase its new free trade credentials following its recent accession to membership of the WTO, there was a strong, traditional assertion of the importance of keeping markets open.” Oxley said the result was an emphasis on “the need to strengthen and open markets, almost in full disregard of the immediate threats” to the global economy, including further contraction.
“The key background is continuing concern about the capacity of European economies to manage the financial crisis in Europe. In this, APEC economies are bystanders,” he said. But while “lagging growth in the U.S. and growing concern about the fundamentals of the Chinese economy” figure strongly into APEC perspectives on the global economy, these issues were not addressed at the summit.