Leaders target progress in TPP trade pact
By Azlan Othman in Honolulu

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday left the country to attend the 19th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit from November 12-13, 2011 in Hawaii, United States.

His Majesty was scheduled to arrive at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday morning (Nov 11).

Present to bid farewell to His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik, HRH Prince 'Abdul Wakeel and HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah.

Also present at His Majesty the Sultan's Flight Hangar were senior government officials and the Ambassador of the United States to Brunei Darussalam, Mr Daniel L Shields III.

The area likely to see progress during this year's APEC Summit is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement which is seen as a building block towards an eventual Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area.

Other deliverables besides strengthening economic integration include promoting green growth, expanding trade and improving regulatory cooperation and advancing regulatory convergence across APEC. These efforts will advance the Yokohama Vision and the APEC Growth Strategy.

Brunei Darussalam is among the pioneer of the TPP along with Singapore, New Zealand and Chile. The TPP was established back in 2006 aimed at creating free trade zone across the pacific rim and it is now being negotiated to include five other APEC economies namely Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Peru and the US with Japan being the latest to show its indication to join.

His Majesty will attend the Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders' Meeting on Saturday (Nov 12), a dinner to be hosted by US President Barrack Obama and Mrs Michelle Obama and later a cultural performance.

And on Sunday (Nov 13), the monarch will attend the plenary session followed by dialogue with APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), working lunch, second plenary session before leaving Hawaii at around 5pm.

APEC summit yesterday saw the arrivals of heads of state with Chinese President Hu Jintao arriving in the morning.

The APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting was also held Thursday (Nov 10) at Hawaii Convention Centre which was also attended by Brunei's Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abd Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim. APEC Ministerial Meeting starts Friday (Nov 11).

The APEC Finance Ministers met in the face of continuing global economic challenges. The crisis in Europe remains the central challenge to global growth. It is crucial that Europe moves quickly to put in place a strong plan to restore financial stability. US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the principal focus of their discussions was how to help strengthen growth around the world and make it more balanced and sustainable in the future.

In this context, APEC Finance Ministers concentrated on making progress in a number of areas. Asian economies will need to do more to stimulate domestic demand for growth to be less vulnerable to slowdown such as the situation in Europe so that they can continue to contribute to global growth.

Ministers also want to build a level playing field to reduce the chances that risk shifts to jurisdictions with lower standards. APEC Ministers also discussed practical, direct measures for boosting future growth in all their economies, focussing on the vital role of infrastructure investment in catalysing growth and employment creation.

The APEC Forum was established in 1989 to leverage on the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies. APEC aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by facilitating balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure economic growth and by accelerating regional economic integration. - Borneo Bulletin (12th Novempber 2011)