by He Jing, Zhao Jingjing
BALI, Indonesia, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Pacific Rim economies will launch on Saturday their annual summit here to discuss ways to boost resilient economic growth and push forward regional economic integration.
Leaders from 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum converge at a time when global economic recovery remained weak and some emerging markets showed particular fragility.
The leaders are expected to underline the importance of a solid economic recovery amid concerns about unevenness of global growth and effects of tapering stimulus programs.
Global growth prospect for 2013 has been marked down repeatedly over the last year, global rebalancing is incomplete, regional growth disparities remain wide, and unemployment, particularly among youths, remains unacceptably high, according to the final communique of the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg last September.
As global issues such as climate change, biodiversity losses and scarcity of natural resources escalate along with growing urbanization and economic development, achieving sustainable growth within the region is naturally one of APEC 2013's priorities.
It is hoped that APEC 2013 would continue injecting impetus to ensure that the Asia-Pacific region maintains robust economic growth and resilience, and is able to swiftly recover from shocks and contagions from other regions as its theme "Resilient Asia- Pacific, Engine of Global Growth" suggests.
The theme is further expounded through its three priorities related to the attainment of the Bogor Goals, the achievement of sustainable growth with equity and the promotion of connectivity.
Since its birth in 1989, APEC has been committed to dismantling barriers and bottlenecks that interfere with business while nurturing closer economic ties. APEC economies have taken numerous concrete and bold trade and investment liberalization measures unilaterally and collectively, significant milestones in the development of the regional group, said APEC ministers responsible for trade in a gathering in April this year.
In advancing the Bogor Goals, which were adopted at a meeting in Bogor, Indonesia in 1994, much has been achieved in trade liberalization and the technical cooperation which involves long- term efforts, leaving trade and investment facilitation the focus of the work that needs to be done by APEC.
Statistics provided by the APEC Secretariat showed that the average tariffs in the APEC region dropped from about 17 percent in 1989 to 5.7 percent in 2011, though the tariffs in agriculture were higher at 11.9 percent. The percentage of zero-tariff product lines went up to 45.2 percent in 2010 and the percentage of product lines with tariffs at 10 percent or above decreased to 14. 7 percent.
Nevertheless, experts indicated that it is difficult to advance trade cooperation in an environment where global trade negotiations have completely stalled.
"Major countries are reluctant to make significant binding commitments locally in advance of knowing globally where negotiations are going, a tough challenge facing global negotiations," Professor Andrew MacIntyre, dean of the College of Asia & the Pacific at Australian National University, told Xinhua.
He added that structural reform and infrastructure now remain the key issues for all the economies.
"The big challenge for us all is to remain vigilant in managing the risks, continuing reform momentum and most importantly, maintaining the openness and dynamism in the region," Indonesia's Finance Minister Chatib Basri said earlier this year.