Obama: APEC Goal is Creating Seamless Regional Economy in Pacific

Posted November 13th, 2011 at 6:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has officially opened the summit of 21 Asian-Pacific leaders in Hawaii, saying their ultimate goal is creating a seamless regional economy.

Mr. Obama formally welcomed the leaders of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum Sunday, telling them they have much to do. He said 3 billion citizens are looking towards them to increase exports, expand trade, and create jobs.

He said APEC can accomplish these goals by creating green jobs focused on renewable energy and environmental protection, and streamlining regulations that could restrict commerce.

Mr. Obama said he is confident the APEC leaders can make progress, reminding them they have done it before.

Saturday, Mr. Obama secured a basic agreement with eight other APEC leaders to create a huge Pacific Rim free trade zone called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada now intends to join the TPP. Mr. Harper said Sunday President Obama encouraged the Canadians to come aboard, and the prime minister said Canada can easily meet the TPP criteria.

Countries currently involved in talks on forming the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Their leaders call the TPP a milestone toward their goal of linking their economies and liberalizing mutual trade and investment. They also expressed confidence that the accord will help create jobs, improve living standards and reduce poverty in their countries.

Japan, along with Canada, is also expressing interest in joining the group. But China is critical of the TPP, calling it a form of trade protectionism.