His Majesty heads to Japan today
By Azlan Othman in Yokohama

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam will arrive today in the port city of Yokohama to join other Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders of the Pacific Rim nations for the annual summit scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Besides attending the summit, His Majesty is also expected to meet His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito of Japan and hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

During the summit, His Majesty is scheduled to attend a welcome working lunch, retreat session, hold dialogue with APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) members, cultural event, official dinner, closing lunch and Leaders' Declaration.

Another highlight will be His Majesty's deliberations with other Economic Leaders on multilateral trade agreement, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which is one of the pathways towards achieving the potential free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

Brunei is among the founding members of the TPP, which was signed in 2005 along with Singapore, Chile and New Zealand. Five more countries are negotiating to join including Malaysia, Peru, Australia, United States and Vietnam. APEC has been exploring possible pathways to FTAAP for greater economic integration to enhance trade and investment.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement at the end of the ministerial meeting yesterday, the APEC ministers expressed their strong commitment to the multilateral trading system and to bring the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) to a successful conclusion as soon as possible.

A strong multilateral trading system is an essential source of economic growth, development, and stability. An ambitious and balanced conclusion of the DDA will provide a much-needed stimulus for the global economy.

The delay in concluding the DDA negotiations is therefore a source of continuing concern.

Open markets are vital for growth and job creation, enabling strong and sustainable growth in this region. While the world economy is on its way to recovery; however, there still remains a possibility of increasing protectionist pressures in the future.

They agreed to extend the commitment made by Ministers Responsible for Trade in June in Sapporo for another year until 2011. They have also agreed to recommend their leaders to re-extend their commitment made in 2008, to refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing WTO-inconsistent measures in all areas, including those that stimulate exports, until the end of 2013.

On financial crisis, the ministers said it has been two years since the onset of the global financial crisis. Since then, efforts made by economies and the international community have brought the global economy back on the track towards recovery. The APEC region has been leading global economic growth in spite of the crisis and has actively contributed in overcoming it.

The APEC region will continue to increase its importance in the global economy as a growth centre. However, the crisis has yet to end. Countries are now facing challenges, in particular, of addressing volatility, creating employment and reconsolidating finance and continuing to keep a balance between recovery and exit strategies of fiscal and monetary policies.

At the same time, the scope of issues that APEC needs to address has also significantly expanded in the changing regional and global economic environment. The ministers shared the view that a reconsideration of the quality of growth is imperative in responding to the needs of the new era, and that APEC's traditional agenda of regional economic integration (REI) also needs to be reinforced.

On regional economic integration, the ministers reaffirmed that APEC's work on trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation has been and will continue to be furthered by its regional economic integration (REI) agenda. - Borneo Bulletin (12th November 2010)