Among several tasks at their meeting, trade ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will be monitoring members' compliance with pledges made by APEC leaders at the Nov 2008 summit. In their statement, the leaders strongly advocated the principle of multilateral free trade, opposed trade protectionism and promised not to create new investment and trade barriers. United States Commerce Secretary Gary Locke could be assailed because several US plans hint at non-compliance.
At the summit, then United States President George W Bush urged APEC countries, which account for half the world's economic activity, to rely on free markets to resolve the crisis. His successor, Barak Obama, appears less committed to leaving markets to manage the crisis. And he has proposed penalizing US companies that ship jobs and money overseas, a strategy criticized as protectionism. APEC, now 21 countries strong, describes itself as the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. The commitments made at APEC summits are on a voluntary basis and are non-binding. May/09
Date written/update: 2009-07-21