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Asia

'Yokohama Vision' still has some way to go

The APEC summit in Japan came to an end with a pledge to turn vague ideas for a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region into reality. However, no binding commitments or clear timelines were set.

World leaders at the APEC summit in Yokohama pledged to remove trade barriers

World leaders at the APEC summit in Yokohama pledged to remove trade barriers

The 18th APEC summit in Yokohama ended slightly earlier than planned - perhaps because US President Obama wanted to visit the city of Kamakura or because there was a lack of commitment.

The chair of the summit, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, spoke just before lunch: "I can tell you that the state and government heads of the 21 APEC nations have made a declaration that will be called the Yokohama Vision.

"The Asia-Pacific region has shown its great strength for recovery. In my opinion, it is one of the centers of the world economy and one of the driving forces behind further development."

Balanced, sustainable and innovative growth

The "Yokohama Vision" points out the direction towards growth for the future and stipulates that this should be balanced, sustainable, innovative, secure and inclusive but it sets no concrete deadlines. What is clear is that the APEC forum looks set to remain non-binding and optional.

US President Barack Obama and Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan met on the sidelines of APEC

US President Barack Obama and Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan met on the sidelines of APEC

Prime Minister Kan said the main goal remained the removal of trade barriers and added that other regional groupings would play a part in helping this be achieved.

Although Kan joined a Trans-Pacific Partnership summit held on the sidelines of APEC as an observer, Japan has not yet said whether it will become a member, despite overtures from the US and Australia. Kan is in favor of Japan joining but faces resistance in his government.

Obama urges a boosting of domestic demand

Beijing meanwhile prefers the "ASEAN plus 3" grouping, which does not include the US, as President Barack Obama hinted at in a speech that has worried some Asian nations.

"One of the important lessons the economic crisis taught us is the limit of depending primarily on American consumers and Asian exports to drive economic growth," Obama said.

"Countries with large surpluses must shift away from an unhealthy dependence on exports and take steps to boost domestic demand."

There were plenty of photo opportunities at the four-day summit

There were plenty of photo opportunities at the four-day summit

This line has become almost like a mantra for President Obama and he will surely take it up again when the US takes over the chair of the APEC forum next year.

APEC's 21 economies account for over 50 percent of the world’s global economy and more than 45 percent of its trade.

Author: Peter Kujath (act)
Editor: Arun Chowdhury

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