APEC Leaders Promise `Extraordinary’ Steps in Crisis

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) — Leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum vowed to continue with “extraordinary” steps to fight the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Heads of state from the 21-member group, which includes the U.S. and China, said today they won’t erect new barriers to investment or trade for at least 12 months. The leaders called for improvements in corporate governance and said that they backed efforts to extend credit to companies.

“We have already taken urgent and extraordinary steps to stabilize our financial sectors and strengthen economic growth and promote investment and consumption,” the group said in a statement issued during its meeting in Lima. “We will continue to take such steps, and work closely, in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, to implement future actions.”

A global economic slump has prompted central bankers and politicians to cut lending rates and announce spending packages and tax cuts designed to spark growth. World leaders also warned against rising protectionist sentiment that would erect trade barriers in a bid to shield local companies and stem job losses.

“There is a risk that slower world growth could lead to calls for protectionist measures which would only exacerbate the current economic situation,” they said. “Free market principles, and open trade and investment regimes, will continue to drive global growth, employment and poverty reduction.”

Doha Talks

The leaders said their governments are committed to reaching an agreement on the World Trade Organization’s Doha round of talks next month. The Doha talks began in 2001 and have moved in fits and starts since then, as negotiators failed year after year to reach the outlines of a deal.

“We seek an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda negotiations to provide the basis for our economies to grow and prosper,” the statement said. “We are intensifying our engagement with WTO counterparts to create the convergence necessary to achieve this outcome.”

Leaders from the Group of 20 biggest developed and emerging nations last week laid out regulatory proposals to prevent a recurrence of the financial crisis. APEC heads of state said they strongly support the G-20 plan and back the “broad policy response” needed to restore growth and stability to global markets.

APEC also called for tighter standards on corporate governance and risk management in the financial industry.

“As financial systems deepen and become more complex, regulatory and supervisory tools must become more effective,” the leaders said.

The members of APEC account for more than half of the world’s gross domestic product and 47 percent of global trade, according to the organization’s Web site.

The biggest member economies in APEC are the U.S., Japan, and China. Other members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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