|Participants pose for a group photo during the 20th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Vladivostok, east Russia, Sept. 9, 2012. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wrapped up here Sunday, with the leaders signalling the way ahead on regional development.
During the APEC 2012 Leaders' Week, economic leaders and representatives actively exchanged views on four major issues, including trade and investment liberalization, regional economic integration, strengthening food security and establishing reliable supply chains, as well as cooperation to foster innovative growth.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the meeting's concluding news briefing the gathering had achieved all the goals set for it and the business community had received the necessary signal.
"We believe that the tasks set by the summit in Vladivostok have been fully achieved... We managed not only to preserve the continuity of APEC activities, but to set new horizons and most importantly give a positive signal to business circles," Putin said.
After intensive discussions, the leaders issued a joint declaration, outlining pathways to strengthen the Asia-Pacific region's prosperity and leadership in the global economy.
Against the backdrop of a global economy facing a number of challenges, the leaders said they welcomed European leaders' commitment to taking all necessary measures to safeguard the eurozone's integrity and stability.
They also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening a multilateral trading system, vowing to push forward the Doha Round of global trade talks.
Amid rising risks of protectionism and continuing uncertainties in the global economy, the leaders pledged to refrain until the end of 2015 from raising new barriers to trade and investment, and to not impose new export restrictions or implement WTO-inconsistent measures in all areas.
With regard to regional integration, the leaders recognized the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) as a major instrument to further APEC's regional economic integration agenda.
The leaders also reached consensus on the development of green growth in a bid to seek practical, trade-enhancing solutions to global environmental challenges.
In particular, the APEC economies endorsed an APEC List of Environmental Goods containing 54 items, whose tariffs would be reduced to 5 percent or less by the end of 2015.
On food security, the leaders demonstrated their commitment by agreeing to increase sustainable agricultural production and productivity, develop food markets, enhance food security, improve access to food for vulnerable groups and raise farmers' welfare.
Highlighting the importance of establishing reliable supply chains, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achieving a 10-percent improvement in supply-chain performance by 2015 in the Asia-Pacific region.
The proposed performance improvement included reductions in time, cost and uncertainty of moving goods and services through the entire region.
On innovative issues, the leaders agreed to jointly foster innovative growth, which, in turn, would facilitate sustainable development of the region as a whole.
They agreed to take important steps to facilitate development of effective, non-discriminatory and market-driven innovation policies, innovation cooperation and innovation networking.
APEC has already upgraded its Industrial Science and Technology Working Group into a Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI), to bring into full play such actors as governments, businesses and academia from the Asia-Pacific region.
The leaders also pointed out the importance small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) had in innovation-driven growth.
SMMEs are "a significant driver of development and innovation in the Asia-Pacific region that will improve the quality of economic integration and competitiveness of our economies," the joint statement says.
Chinese President Hu Jintao attended the leaders' meetings and exchanged views on regional development.
Hu told the meeting China would take the hosting of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in 2014 as an opportunity to deepen cooperation with other APEC members and make fresh and even greater contributions to the development, prosperity and people's well-being in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.
During his stay in Russia, Hu also delivered a keynote speech on infrastructure for sustainable growth at the CEO summit of APEC.
The next APEC gathering will be held in Bali, Indonesia, in 2013. China, the Philippines and Peru will host APEC in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively.
APEC, a premier economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region, was established in 1989. It has grown to encompass 21 members spanning four continents, and accounts for about 40 percent of the world's population, 57 percent of its GDP, and 48 percent of world trade.