NUSA DUA, Indonesia, (PNA/Kyodo) — Ministers of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Saturday gathered to discuss ways to further integrate the region, including developing stronger and safer infrastructure, before adopting a joint statement at the end of the day’s meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali.
On the second and final day of the ministerial meeting, the agenda covered discussions for drafting a stand-alone statement supporting a multi-lateral trading system under World Trade Organization (WTO) and a work program toward attaining the Bogor Goals to free up trade and investment in the region by 2020.
Stalemate in trade talks under WTO brought a new wave of movements to conclude regional free trade agreements in the region, including negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, both involving many of the APEC economies.
The ministers are expected to support progress of such negotiations.
The 12 APEC member-countries involved in the TPP talks met since Tuesday on the side of the APEC summit, aiming to conclude within the year a deal to create a free trade zone covering a third of world trade.
APEC members are also expected to address women’s empowerment, enhancing competitiveness of small and medium enterprises and improving supply chain performance.
Following the ministerial meeting, the annual APEC summit will be held on Monday and Tuesday where leaders will hold discussions based on the joint ministerial statement.
U.S. President Barack Obama will skip the summit due to partial shutdown of his government over the budget impasse.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to attend the sessions.
APEC consists of Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Taiwan, the U.S. and ASEAN members Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Its members account for roughly half of the world’s economic output.