Asia-Pacific leaders seek ways to foster growth

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 October, 2013, 11:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 October, 2013, 12:05pm


Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is urging Asian business and political leaders to do more to counter the economic headwinds confronting developing countries by dismantling barriers to trade and investment.

Yudhoyono told a regional summit that as advanced economies are gaining speed, emerging economies are slowing, dogged in some cases by trade deficits, capital flight and weakening currencies.

“The advanced economies are experiencing recovery and showing faster growth while emerging economies ... are facing a slowdown,” he said at the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum held amid tight security on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

“APEC is in the ideal position to help the recovery of the global economy,” said Yudhoyono, emphasizing the importance of preventing protectionism and opening markets further to maximize prosperity.

Reductions in tariffs over the past 25 years have yielded nearly $59 billion (HK$457.5 billion) in savings for businesses, said Yudhoyono, whose own country is struggling not to lose gains that have made the world’s largest Muslim country a rising economic power in the region.

Yudhoyono said Indonesia’s recent troubles with a weakening currency and inflation were transient.

“We are convinced this is a short-term challenge. Indonesia will remain a land of opportunity and growth,” he said.

Singaporean president Lee Hsien Loong said that Asia is pressing ahead with reforms as the U.S., China and Japan — the world’s No. 1, 2 and 3 economies — grapple with their own internal issues.

The APEC summit offers Indonesia a chance to showcase its own progress and possibly attract foreign investment it needs to help modernize its roads, ports, and other infrastructure.

“As the chief sales person of Indonesia incorporated, let me urge you to take advantage of our opportunities,” Yudhoyono said, pointing to a potential $1.8 trillion (HK$14 trillion) in business prospects in a wide array of businesses.

With the U.S. bogged down in a congressional stalemate over the national budget, forcing President Barack Obama to call off his own attendance at the APEC summit, smaller economies in Asia are watching closely to see how the biggest economies fare.

The 21 economies in APEC, which range from tiny Brunei to giant China, are hoping to reach agreement on at least some reforms that might help break a logjam in world trade talks ahead of a WTO meeting in Bali in December.