Ministers at APEC vow ‘green’ growth

Kyodo

Pacific Rim ministers vowed to promote “green” economic growth by setting a goal to boost energy efficiency in the region as they wrapped up their two-day meeting in Honolulu on Friday.

The trade and foreign ministers of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum agreed to reduce the “energy intensity” of each economy by at least 45 percent by 2035, using 2005 as the base year.

Energy intensity is a measure of energy consumption based on gross domestic product. The lower an economy’s intensity is, the more efficiently it is using energy and the lower its climate change impact will be.

The promotion of green growth was a key part of APEC’s agenda for the meeting. Energy demand is rising sharply in the region, which accounts for more than half of the world’s economic output and includes fast-growing economies such as China.

The ministers also agreed to accelerate efforts toward economic integration by strengthening international supply chains for industrial products, increasing support for small and midsize exporters, and promoting regulatory cooperation.

In a joint statement, the ministers said small and midsize companies are “integral” to economic growth, as they account for around 90 percent of the businesses and 60 percent of the workforce in the region.

The ministers described the energy intensity target as an “aggregate goal,” recognizing that rates of improvement may vary for many reasons, including economic structure, level of development, approach to energy security and past progress on improving energy efficiency.

The steps the ministers agreed to implement for green growth include streamlining import procedures for energy-efficient demonstration vehicles, and treating remanufactured goods as new goods when applying tariffs or other border charges in order to facilitate trade in such items.

The ministers also confirmed the importance of successfully concluding the stalled Doha Round of liberalization talks under the World Trade Organization, while acknowledging the difficulties involved and the emerging need to take a new approach toward the goal. The talks were originally scheduled to be concluded in 2005.

The outcome of the ministerial meeting was to be forwarded to the weekend summit of APEC leaders in Hawaii.

Genba tells of TPP nod

Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and trade minister Yukio Edano informed ministers of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum Friday of Japan’s decision to join talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Japan’s first direct statement of its TPP stance on the international stage.

Genba also said Japan intends to contribute to the creation of a free-trade area covering the Asia-Pacific region by taking “various approaches,” while noting Tokyo’s commitment to other regional undertakings such as the ASEAN Plus Three and the ASEAN Plus Six frameworks.