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Staff writerGINOWAN, Okinawa, Pref. — Ministerial-level officials from 18 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum gathered here Friday for two days of meetings in a joint effort to promote energy efficiency and market competitiveness in the region.The Third APEC Energy Ministers Meetings are being chaired by trade chief Kaoru Yosano.Referring to the region’s deepening economic crises in his opening address at the Ginowan Convention Center, Yosano urged participants to “correctly recognize the effect the economic crisis has on the energy sector, and steadily promote various policies that would make the energy sector contribute toward a recovery in economic growth.”Yosano also urged the APEC economies to share a common understanding on an outlook for energy supply through policy dialogue involving the private sector, warning that the region will see an increase in energy consumption in the medium to long term.Despite the current economic downturn, the Asia-Pacific region will see strong energy demand in the long run, with China leading growth in the industrial sector toward 2010, according to the revised APEC Demand and Supply Outlook issued Friday by Asia-Pacific Energy Research Center.Supply infrastructure is needed in order for the APEC economies to meet such demand, the research center warns. Established under the APEC Energy Action Program at its Osaka meetings in 1995, the Tokyo-based think tank warns that the prospective rise in the region’s carbon dioxide gas emissions will challenge the legally binding targets set by U.N. conventions on global warming in Kyoto.Pointing to greater dependence on oil imports, the think tank predicts the region will see a significant rise in energy consumption, which will exceed 40 percent from the 1995 level to 2010, with growth in production hovering around 30 percent.While stressing the need to secure a stable oil supply, Yosano called for development of natural gas and electricity infrastructures and necessary market mechanisms to boost private-sector investment in the region.APEC economies participating in the gathering include Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, South Korea and the United States. In addition, Russia, Vietnam and Peru are also taking part for the first time in the energy ministers’ meetings, because those states will become official APEC members in November.Abundant in energy resources, Russia is expected to play a significant role in the meetings, according to Japanese government officials.

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