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APEC summit says no to protectionism

2009-11-16 10:10:22Source:AgenciesAuthor: Zhang Wen

The 20th APEC summit wrapped up on Sunday with calls for a fresh economics model and signs of nuclear-pact progress, but no agreement on climate change.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders, after eight days of meetings, vowed to remake the world economy after the worst financial crisis in decades and decried protectionism and old models of growth.

"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 and services," AFP quoted the concluding declaration as saying. "We need a new growth paradigm. We will pursue growth that is balanced, inclusive and sustainable, supported by innovation and a knowledge-based economy," it said.

A free market throughout the entire Asia-Pacific region was a key theme during the summit. US President Barack Obama said the United States was interested in using a four-country trade pact as a starting point.

"The final goal may sound too ambitious; a free-trade zone that covers 2.7 billion people is not easy. But APEC is making progress," said Zhao Jianglin, deputy head at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Although APEC is using a non-mandatory binding mechanism, it is a wonderful platform that is able to bring together different levels of development, different social systems, and different sets of values and economies."

However, on another big issue, leaders failed to yield any major breakthrough on climate discussions. In the final declaration, APEC called for "an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen," but dropped a proposal included in earlier summit drafts to slash their greenhouse gas emissions to half their 1990 levels by 2050.

"There was an assessment by the leaders that it was unrealistic to expect a full, internationally, legally binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days," US Deputy National Security Adviser Mike Froman told reporters.

Nevertheless, world leaders including Russia, Japan and the US said they are willing to push forward with negotiations, while acknowledging the difficulties. Chinese President Hu Jintao told APEC leaders that he hoped for "positive results" in Copenhagen, adding that China was "ready to work together with all parties to achieve this goal."

Separately, a replacement treaty on reducing nuclear arms between the US and Russia made progress and served as an upbeat ending to the summit, according to Russian information agency Novosti.

"I believe that we'll be able, as we agreed during our first meeting in London and during our subsequent meetings, to agree on the final text of the treaty by December," the Russia news agency quoted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as saying, adding that the deal would be a contribution by Rus-sia and the US to international security.

Obama then responded positively, "Our goal continues to be to complete the negotiations and to be able to sign a deal before the end of the year."

The next APEC summit is expected to be in Obama's birth state, Hawaii, in 2011.