The Straits Times
Published on Sep 07, 2012

Apec's worries: Slowing growth, protectionism


VLADIVOSTOK - Trade ministers from across the Asia-Pacific have expressed worry over slowing growth and rising trade protectionism, and called for more to be done to keep trade free-flowing.

After two days of meetings in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) trade ministers yesterday pledged to roll back trade barriers that had been put up since the global economic crisis in 2009. They also encouraged the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to deepen its monitoring of protectionist measures.

"We note with concern the International Monetary Fund's downward projection for global economic growth for this and next year and the rise in protectionist instances around the world," they said in a joint statement. "These developments increase the urgency of further action to keep markets open."

The meetings of trade and foreign ministers also resulted in a breakthrough on the trade of environmental goods and services, with officials proposing a list of 54 environmental goods and services for which import duties will be cut to 5 per cent by 2015. These products, which include waste incinerators and wind turbines, will help promote environmental cleanliness, said Russia's Minister of Economic Development Andrey Belousov.