14 Nov 2011

Asia-Pacific a US priority says Obama

8:50 pm on 14 November 2011

US president, Barack Obama has stressed the importance of a vibrant and successful Asia-Pacific region to US prosperity and says it is a top priority for his government.

Speaking to journalists as the summit came to a close, Mr Obama said the meeting is a chance to work towards a seamless regional economy.

He emphasised that the countries of the Pacific rim account account for about half the world's trade and the US depends on nations in the Asia-Pacific to double its exports.

He also urged the 21-nation APEC summit to work for more sustainable economic growth.

Mr Obama said progress had already been made on several trade issues, including what he described as "next-generation" trade issues.

These included issues such as removing frictions in the global supply chains, helping small- and-medium sized enterprises grow and have better access to the global trading system, and adopting "smart market-oriented innovation policies."

In his news conference address, Mr Obama also took China to task, saying it has not done enough to allow its currency, the yuan, to rise.

He said China engaged in economic practices that disadvantaged many of its trading partners and it was time it operated by the same rules as everyone else.

The BBC points out that the value of the yuan has been a key point of conflict between the US and China over recent years.

Agreement on tariffs cuts for "green" products

In an earlier communiqué, the APEC leaders committed to cutting tariffs on environmental goods such as solar panels to no more than 5% by the end of 2015.

In a joint statement, they said they would also eliminate non-tariff barriers that impede trade in green products.

APEC economies will make a list of environmental goods in 2012 and reduce tariffs to no more than five per cent by the end of 2015.

The ABC reports that the US has made the trade in green goods such as solar and wind energy a priority for its chairmanship of the APEC forum, seeking a way to boost both job growth and environmental action.

Mood brighter than previous meetings, English

New Zealand's representative at the APEC meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, says the mood at the summit is brighter than at meetings of the IMF and World Bank he attended in September.

As the summit draws to a close, Mr English has been meeting political and business leaders, including executives from Microsoft and Cargill Foods.

He says that while the mood at the IMF and World Bank meetings were "dark", there was a brighter mood at APEC, reflecting better growth prospects for the region.

Mr English says no-one is playing down the financial crisis in Europe, but the region trades less with the EU than it once did.