By Azlan Othman in Honolulu
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, the United States of America yesterday morning to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Economic Leaders' Summit 2011.
Present at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field to greet His Majesty were Major General Randy Shasteen, Deputy Reserve Commander and Ms Gladys Boluda, Assistant Head of Protocol, State Department of the United States of America.
Also present were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office; Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awg Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; and Dato Paduka Hj Yussof bin Hj Abdul Hamid, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the United States.
Also present were Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng; and Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the United States of America (USA), Dato Paduka Haji Yussof bin Haji Abdul Hamid.
Apec - comprising 21 economies located in the Pacific Rim - aims to support sustainable economic development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific.
US President Barack Obama discussed a trans-pacific partnership (TPP) agreement with nine member countries involved in the trade pact deal including Brunei Darussalam, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Peru and Chile yesterday.
Also taking place was the APEC Ministerial Meeting involving US Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, who along with the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam, Dato Paduka Awg Lim Jock Hoi, addressed a press conference where he said that an Apec country did not have to receive an invitation in order to join the TPP.
"Part of the strength of TPP is that it is an open architecture and not designed as a closed club house and all are welcome. We should not wait for invitation for such a 21st Century high-standard trade-liberalising agreement," Ron Kirk said.
China's Assistant Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua in a press conference said Beijing had not been asked to join the TPP talks but would seriously consider it if invited.
Japan's interest still faces significant hurdles as Ron Kirk welcomed Tokyo's move but insisted it must be prepared to meet the "high standards" of liberalised trade by reducing barriers to agriculture, services and manufacturing. Japan's farmers have proven themselves to be formidable domestic opponents to Japan's removal of its large subsidies.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced earlier in Tokyo that the world's third-largest economy wants to join US-led talks to forge a Trans-Pacific Partnership among the nine nations. Ron Kirk said that the goal is to build a next-generation trade agreement.
Canada's International Trade Minister Ed Fast said they would enter the agreement and negotiations should it be seen that such a move would be in Canada's interest. "Obviously we are following very closely what's happening in the TPP. We certainly are exploring Canadian involvement but at this point of time, we have not yet determined whether it is of best interest to Canada."
- Borneo Bulletin
(13th Novempber 2011)