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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pacific Rim Talks Focus On China

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN -- Pacific Rim officials started four days of trade talks Wednesday, dominated by the benefits expected from China's imminent accession to the World Trade Organization.

"APEC members stand to benefit more because of closer ties historically with China than other countries," said a senior official from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Senior officials from the 21 APEC member economies gathered in the sultanate of Brunei for a round of trade liberalization talks ahead of a summit meeting in November.

China's entry into the WTO was not on the formal agenda in Brunei.

"The meeting will focus on how APEC can contribute to the WTO agenda," said the senior APEC official.

The officials from APEC, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of global trade and some $16 trillion of economic output, will explore ways to bring down trade barriers and strengthen markets.

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

Last week the European Union signed a trade pact with China, leaving only a handful of nations standing in the way of China's 14-year quest to join the global trading group.

China has pledged to open its markets and is expected to adopt deeper economic reforms once in the WTO.

APEC officials welcomed the U.S. House of Representatives' approval of a bill granting Beijing normal trade relations, which has paved the way for it's entry into the WTO.