Apec leaders pledge to maintain economic growth at end of Nusa Dua summit

End-of-summit statement says measures will be taken in response to an expected slowdown in the global economy and a weakening in trade

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 9:01am

Apec leaders pledged to maintain economic growth as they concluded a two-day summit in Bali, where President Xi Jinping took the centre stage in the absence of his US counterpart Barack Obama.

Member states of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum said in a statement released yesterday that measures would be taken in response to an expected slowdown in economic growth.

"Global growth is too weak, risks remain tilted to the downside, global trade is weakening and the economic outlook suggests growth is likely to be slower and less balanced than desired," the statement said.

"We will implement prudent and responsible macroeconomic policies to ensure mutually reinforcing effect of growth and to maintain economic and financial stability in the region, and prevent negative spillover effect."

Leaders from the 21 member states used the annual summit to discuss important regional and international issues ranging from economic to political hot spots. Analysts said this year's event was more focused on economic and trade issues while political matters were largely sidelined.

At the summit's centre stage was Xi, who sought to reassure the region that China would remain an important economic partner. His profile was further boosted by the absence of Obama, who cancelled his trip at the last minute due to the fiscal impasse at home.

Xi also found his maiden attendance at the regional summit a much more amiable experience than his predecessor Hu Jintao , who at the last two meetings was under pressure to address thorny issues ranging from territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas to the North Korean nuclear crisis.

"This year's Apec was the most peaceful meeting [for China] since 2010," said Shi Yinhong , a professor of international relations at Renmin University.

Shi said this was partly a result of measures taken by the Chinese government to improve relations with regional neighbours since the start of the year, a key element of Xi's foreign policy initiatives.

China has been criticised for its increasingly assertive behaviour since tensions over the South China Sea flared again in 2010. But territorial disputes were sidetracked in this year's summit in Nusa Dua. Xi took the opportunity to emphasise China's status as the region's biggest trading partner and export market.

"China will firmly uphold regional peace and stability and help cement a foundation for a win-win situation in the Asia-Pacific," Xi told an Apec business forum on Monday.

Sitting in for Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry pushed through the agenda on Trans Pacific partnership (TPP), a trade pack considered a key element of US re-engagement with Asia, also known as the "pivot". China is excluded from TPP. Washington is pushing for an end to negotiations by the end of this year, a goal described by officials and analysts as too ambitious.

After a meeting on TPP was held in a hotel away from the official venue yesterday, a White House statement said the negotiations were on track.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse