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BBC's Simon Ingram in Brunei
"[One] problem lies in the immense diversity of the 21 member states"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 10:35 GMT
Defence dominates Apec summit
Policewoman walks past sign for the summit
The group is split over trade liberalisation issues
Defence and security overshadowed trade and economics issues on Wednesday at a meeting of 21 Pacific Rim countries in Brunei.

Apec represents:
21 member states
Two-thirds of the world's population
60 % of global output
Almost half of world trade
A flurry of bilateral talks centred on defence was held between leaders gathered at the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (Apec) - due to start later on Wednesday in the oil-rich sultanate, sited on Borneo island.

US President Bill Clinton held talks with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, reportedly on arms control.


In no part of the world has globalisation been put to the test as much as in Asia...We have felt both its great benefits and its temporary but brutal sting

President Clinton
Mr Clinton was also set to meet Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, in private discussions expected to focus on North Korea, the status of Taiwan and US plans for a regional missile shield for allies.

Apec was established in 1989 to promote free trade around the Pacific Rim, but its relevance has been questioned in recent years, after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) took up the mantle to push free trade.

Split among group

The group has also become increasingly split over trade liberalisation issues.

Some Apec leaders are wary about embracing free trade, fearing that globalisation will bring little to poor and marginalised communities in their nations.

President Clinton arriving with Chelsea
President Clinton arriving with Chelsea on Tuesday
Non-governmental organisations have also launched forceful protests against globalisation at recent WTO meetings, arguing it does not benefit the poor, workers or the environment.

Problems in advancing multilateral trade pacts have prompted some members to go their own way.

As the summit opened, Australia and Singapore announced that they hoped to conclude a bilateral trade accord within a year.

Asked whether such deals were undermining global free trade agreements, Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong retorted that countries which wanted to run faster should not be slowed down by those who did not want to run at all.

Open markets praised

President Clinton strongly defended free trade and open markets, in a speech to business executives.

Apec members
Australia
Brunei
Canada
Chile
China
Hong Kong
Indonesia
Japan
Malaysia
Mexico
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Russia
Singapore
South Korea
Taiwan
Thailand
United States
Vietnam

He called for a new trade round of WTO talks "as early as possible next year", saying this would be the way " to raise living standards and to lower poverty".

But he acknowledged globalisation had also led to "abject despair", specifically during the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

He argued the crisis itself called for greater reforms and more open economies.

"The region is not out of the woods," he said.

"It would be a cruel irony, indeed, if the recovery were to breed a complacency that stalled the very changes making recovery possible."

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See also:

14 Nov 00 | Business
US pledges Apec support
13 Jul 00 | Business
Trade war set to escalate
19 Jul 00 | Business
EU, Japan call for new trade round
13 Sep 99 | The Economy
Apec calls for trade liberalisation
27 Oct 00 | Europe
China and Europe reach WTO deal
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