APEC Summit Targets Trade Barriers, Terror

APPutin waving to journalists after arriving in Chile for the APEC summit Friday.
SANTIAGO, Chile -- Pacific Rim leaders held a second day of talks Sunday on moves to shore up global security and get rid of trade barriers that prevent the international economy from growing.

Leaders of 21 economies with coasts along the Pacific Ocean posed for an official photograph, donning hand-woven Chilean woolen ponchos. The tradition at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits is for leaders to pose in local garb. Last year in Thailand, they wore silk shirts.

The APEC leaders were expected to close their two-day summit by endorsing new security measures to improve air and cargo safety, and World Trade Organization talks aimed at liberalizing free trade for the 148 WTO member nations.

The push to spur the WTO negotiations from the leaders attending the two-day APEC summit is seen as important because the members' economies represent nearly half of the planet's trade.

Sunday evening, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Ties between the two countries have been strained since a Chinese nuclear submarine entered Japanese waters just over a week ago.

APEC started in 1989 as a gathering to boost Pacific Rim trade, but its focus has broadened to include security matters in recent years.

With terrorism increasing at a pace as rapid as world trade is growing, business and security have become inseparable, said Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Addressing a key U.S. economic concern, Hu pledged anew that China will move to flexible exchange rates that reflect market demands, though he offered no timeline.

China has tied its currency, the yuan, at a fixed rate to the dollar. U.S. manufacturers say the tactic has undervalued the Chinese currency by as much as 40 percent and given Chinese companies a huge competitive advantage over their American counterparts.

U.S. President George W. Bush pledged to start a process to lift a U.S. ban on Canadian beef, and China and Peru said they would negotiate toward reaching a free trade agreement.

Leaders on Sunday will decide whether to endorse a communique issued by their trade and foreign ministers, who expressed support for ongoing WTO talks in Santiago before the leaders arrived.

Also proposed are new counterterrorism measures to protect food stocks, commercial air flights and cargo shipments between APEC member countries.

APEC's members include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.