A gathering of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum kicked off Sunday in the port city of Vladivostok, Russia, to chart pathways for closer economic ties and promote “green growth” within the region.
Senior officials from Pacific Rim economies engaged in final talks to coordinate positions on key areas ahead of a two-day meeting starting Wednesday, with the annual event culminating in a summit next weekend.
While Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is planning to attend the summit, he is not expected to announce Japan’s participation in multinational talks on forging the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, due in part to internal politics.
During meetings on Russky Island, the forum that accounts for roughly half the world’s economic output will work toward forming a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in which trade and investment would be liberalized across borders.
APEC also aims to finalize a list of environmental goods on which tariffs would be reduced to 5 percent or less by the end of 2015 as agreed on at last year’s summit in Honolulu, to promote green growth in a manner that balances economic growth and the environment.
Host Russia is seeking concrete gains in such areas as trade and investment liberalization, regional economic integration, food security, supply chain security and intensive cooperation on fostering innovation.
In his opening remarks at the two-day preparatory meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov encouraged officials to work hard and be cooperative “so that our joint efforts will ensure that this year in APEC will produce success and meaningful outcomes for all economies.”
The officials are expected to agree on a set of recommendations to be presented to the APEC leaders, who will meet from Sept. 8 to 9, with Russia planning to adopt a leaders’ declaration at the end of the summit.
The stakes are high for Russian leader Vladimir Putin because the APEC leaders’ meeting is the first summit he has hosted since returning as president in May. Putin hopes to use any achievements here to develop the Russian Far East and lure investment from overseas.
Noda was expected to announce Japan’s participation in the TPP talks but is now expected not to because of a lack of coordination with the United States, a key player in the multinational talks, and substantial opposition from fellow lawmakers to joining the free-trade initiative.