Hong Kong to host Apec ministers meeting next year

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 3:32am

Finance ministers, senior financial and central bank officials will gather in Hong Kong next September for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) ministerial meeting.

It will be the first time Hong Kong has hosted the summit.

The announcement by the Ministry of Finance was made as this year's meeting of the 21-member grouping wrapped up in Bali yesterday.

The Occupy Central movement has threatened to blockade the business district in July if there is no plan in place that the group considers satisfactory to deliver a fullly democratic election for chief executive in 2017.

It will also be the first big international summit to be held in the city since the World Trade Organisation conference in 2005.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying welcomed the decision.

"The HKSAR government is grateful for the support and trust of the central government for having decided to hold this important meeting of the Asia-Pacific region in Hong Kong," Leung said in a statement issued last night, adding that he was confident it would be a success.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said it was a "valuable opportunity" for the city that would reinforce and enhance its role as an international financial centre.

Government sources said Beijing had helped Hong Kong to secure the role as host of the meeting.

Political analyst Ivan Choy Chi-keung described the decision as a "political gesture" by Beijing, designed to show it was confident that the Occupy Central movement would not have any effect on the city. "It wasn't up to Hong Kong to decide on its own whether to host the conference," Choy said, adding that the decision was another sign Beijing was concerned about Occupy Central.

As the summit host, China will chair the annual meeting of economic leaders from the region as well as a number of ministerial and other meetings next year. Although it will be hosted by the Ministry of Finance, it will be organised by the Hong Kong government.

At the Apec summit, officials agreed to place the grouping's economies on a stronger, sustainable and more balanced growth path, Xinhua reported.

The 21 Apec members were willing to co-operate to achieve reforms to that end, they said in a statement after the two-day gathering. Members would implement flexible fiscal policies to support economic growth and jobs while remaining committed to sustainable public finances.

"We reaffirm our commitments to rebalancing global demand, and to taking the necessary actions to strengthen market confidence, support growth, maintain stability and increase resilience in emerging market economies," the finance ministers and the senior officials said in the statement. "We resolve to intensify our efforts to implement structural reforms that boost investment, address fundamental weaknesses [and] enhance productivity and competitiveness."