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APEC Seeks ‘Quality’ Growth in Next 10 Years
Source: mb.com.ph
Source Date: Sunday, August 01, 2010
Created: Aug 02, 2010

TOKYO (Dow Jones) – The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will seek to improve the 'quality' of its growth over the next 10 years so that the benefits of its economic integration efforts can be shared in the region, a draft of the APEC growth strategy obtained by Kyodo News showed.

Under an action plan included in the draft long-term comprehensive growth strategy, which the 21-member forum is to finalize later this year, the Pacific Rim economies are expected to implement structural reforms that place priority on such areas as developing smaller businesses and enhancing opportunities for women.

To ensure the strategy's implementation, the draft stipulates that an interim report to the leaders be prepared in 2015 to evaluate progress, and a final report in 2020.

Noting that economic integration has in some cases revealed disparities within and between economies, the draft said, "It is clear APEC members cannot continue with 'growth as usual,' and 'growth quality' needs to be improved, so it is more balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure."

Japan, as this year's chair of APEC, is taking the lead in drafting the growth strategy which the leaders agreed to formulate in a meeting in Singapore last year, the first such initiative for the forum since its launch in 1989.

The substance of the strategy will be discussed at the upcoming high-level meeting to be held in Oita Prefecture on Aug. 7-8, and finalized in November when the leaders of the members gather in Yokohama for an annual summit.

The need to compile a growth strategy came against the background of the global financial crisis triggered in 2008, which showed that the market mechanism alone wouldn't result in desirable growth in the region, according to a Japanese government official.

But Japan may face difficulty in further working out specifics of the strategy, given the diversity economically of the members constituting the forum, with one senior Foreign Ministry official saying that talks in Oita Prefecture may "end up with abstract discussions." The other government official said that countries such as China are especially sensitive about discussing in detail issues related to reforming domestic systems as they don't want to be seen as having had structural change "imposed" from the outside.

APEC, which accounts for more than half the world's economic output and 44% of its trade by value, involves such members as Australia, China, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and some of the countries that belong to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

As for balanced growth, the draft strategy says that APEC economies will maintain growth-oriented policies "until durable private demand is secured," while showing wariness over excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates.

"All economies will pursue exchange rates that reflect economic fundamentals," the draft said.
The draft also calls for the need to work to facilitate access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and women entrepreneurs as part of efforts to realize "inclusive growth" that can ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to thrive in the global market economy.

To achieve more balanced and inclusive growth, the action plan to implement the strategy says that senior officials of the member economies should implement a new strategy for structural reform, which will "contribute to higher quality growth across the board," according to the draft.

Other issues covered by the action plan include the need to design a "Green Growth Plan" to enhance APEC-wide coordination to mitigate climate change by promoting low-carbon technologies, and efforts to create a regional business environment to foster innovation and protect intellectual property.
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