Staff writerThe Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will agree next month to establish a center to promote private-sector investment in public infrastructure projects of the group’s developing economies, according to government officials.The agreement will be made at the ninth annual talks of the 18 APEC economies in Vancouver, British Columbia, in late November, the officials said, requesting that they not be named. Canada, which will host the talks, has proposed an infrastructure promotion center, apparently in hopes of highlighting group consensus over the Canadian initiative. There does not appear to be any opposition to the proposal, the officials said.The proposal comes amid the growing prospect that the Vancouver meeting will produce few, if any, headline-grabbing agreements, especially because many Asian members, hit hard by the continued economic slump, are becoming increasingly reluctant to further open their markets to foreign competition. “Unlike the previous meetings, this year’s APEC meetings will be plain and colorless,” said Noboru Hatakeyama, president of the Japan External Trade Organization and a former vice minister of external affairs at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.At the meeting, members will conduct their first review of the Individual Action Plans for trade and investment liberalization. But Hatakeyama and many other analysts expect no striking results to emerge from the gathering, and announcements of new liberalization measures are not expected.The Individual Action Plans, adopted at last year’s APEC talks in the Philippines as a pillar of the Manila Action Plan, indicates how each member intends to move toward the goal of free trade and investment — by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies. The APEC economies began to implement their individual action plans Jan. 1. There will also be discussion of a possible early liberalization of specific industrial sectors. However, it is uncertain whether any agreement will be reached on the issue.Earlier this year, members submitted individual proposals for such talks, but because as many as 61 sectors were proposed for liberalization, agreement appears unlikely. With regard to the Canadian initiative, officials said the infrastructure promotion center will be set up in Vancouver, and the Canadian government will contribute 5 million Canadian dollars for its operation over at least five years.

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