14 Nov 2009

PM meets US Treasury boss ahead of summit

4:33 pm on 14 November 2009

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has met with a top member of the United States cabinet ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore at the weekend.

Mr Key met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for an hour upon arrival in Singapore on Thursday night. He said a wide range of topics was discussed, from climate change to the US economic recovery.

Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says they also talked about trade, but Mr Geithner did not give away the American position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Mr Key is confident the US will commit to the eight-country free trade area - including America and New Zealand - but is not sure when.

In addition, Mr Key and Mr Geithner discussed the much-criticised weakness of the US dollar.

Mr Key says he is convinced of America's commitment to a strong-dollar policy. But he says a weak greenback might not be bad news for Asia since it is boosting US exports and this ultimately must be good for the region.

'Too soon' to end stimulus

Finance ministers attending APEC believe structural change is the key to cementing economic recovery in the Asia-Pacific region and warn it is too soon to end government stimulus support.

The 21 APEC finance ministers are unanimous that continuing stimulus is critical until there is certainty about the recovery, the ABC reports.

Their views have been echoed in a report by the International Monetary Fund prepared for APEC which finds the global recovery is uneven and in need of continuing policy support.

Mr Geithner says with old patterns of demand demolished by the global crisis, it is critical to establish new sources of growth.

China has also defended its pegging of its currency as a response to the crisis which has, it says, helped contribute to stability and global recovery.