Oct 07, 2013

    Apec warns against barriers to trade

    ASIA-PACIFIC leaders are calling for vigilance against protectionism, as economic growth slows in parts of the region and completion of a 12-nation trade pact looks set to be delayed further.

    Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) economies must also improve infrastructure to spur trade and investment, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in a speech to about 1,000 business executives in Bali yesterday.

    Policymakers are seeking to support their economies via new markets for goods and services, as an uneven global recovery and volatility in financial markets constrain growth.

    Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said companies should encourage governments to curb barriers to trade, instead of asking for measures to safeguard their industries from competition.

    "It is important to maintain that public support for openness and integration, because unless you have that - if we all close ourselves up, or even hinder the process of trading and doing business with one another - I think we are just going to make things worse for all the countries," he said.

    In a statement on Saturday, trade and foreign ministers from Apec said global growth will probably be slower and less balanced than desired, as the world economy is too weak and "risks remain tilted to the downside".

    A slowdown in China and India is reverberating across the region, with the Asian Development Bank forecasting expansion at a four-year low this year.