Asia-Pacific leaders agreed measures designed to create jobs and liberalize regional trade on Sunday following talks hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders said they aimed to “increase economic growth and job creation by expanding trade and investment” across the region.
“Leaders agreed to adopt market-driven innovation policies, reduce tariffs and eliminate other barriers to trade in environmental goods and services, and improve regulatory environments to reduce unnecessary burdens on businesses,” said a statement issued by the United States as host nation.
“These steps will help U.S. growth and jobs by expanding export opportunities in the world’s fastest growing region,” the statement said.
The APEC leaders issued several documents promoting “green growth and green jobs,” the reduction of regulatory trade barriers, an expanded role for small businesses, and trade and investment in environmental goods and services.
Mr. Obama said at the start of the talks that the APEC leaders wanted to make progress towards a “seamless regional economy” and discuss ways to spur growth and create jobs that were “critical” to the United States.
The summit came “at a time when America is very focused on how we can work together in a cooperative, effective way in the Trans-Pacific region,” he said in his opening remarks at the Ko Olina luxury resort near Honolulu.
“And I want to emphasize that the Asia-Pacific region is absolutely critical to America’s economic growth,” he said.
“Today, we’ve got an opportunity to make progress towards our ultimate goal, which is a seamless regional economy,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama and eight leaders of smaller APEC nations on Saturday said they had agreed to “broad outlines” of a Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal that they hoped the 12 other economies would also join.
But Mr. Obama pointed to differences with China, which has not joined the TPP talks, over its restrictions on trade and its “undervalued” renminbi currency.
The United States wanted to see China “play by the rules” of international trade, Obama told business leaders before his talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday.
“There are very few economists who do not believe that the RMB (renminbi) is not undervalued,” he said.
“That disadvantages American business, it disadvantages American workers,” Mr. Obama said. “And we have said to them that this is something that has to change.” Founded in 1989, APEC now groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
The 21 economies, with 2.7 billion people, account for some 55 per cent of global output and more than 40 per cent of global trade.