Trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum began a two-day annual meeting in Singapore on Tuesday to push forward issues of global economic crisis, protectionism and stalled Doha Round of multilateral trade talks.
The ministers from the 21 APEC-member economies, including the United States, Japan, China and South Korea are expected to issue a stand-alone statement on Wednesday about their concerns on the lack of progress made in global trade talks, the rising threat of protectionism and express hope for the Doha Round to be completed by 2010, official sources said.
"A key focus of the meetings will be on how APEC economies can make growth more inclusive to spread its benefits more broadly across society," a press release said.
"Resisting protectionism and supporting multilateral trading system will also be on top of meeting agenda," it added.
An official attending the meeting said that with signs of a global economic recovery underway, the ministers will focus more on ensuring that recovery is not undermined by protectionism, especially in developed countries such as United States.
"Protectionist measures that are unjustified will not be good for sentiment," he said. "We will also be looking at a new economic model that will be giving emphasis on inclusiveness and sustainable growth."
Formed in 1989 as a loose consultative forum, APEC's 21 members account for about 43 per cent of global trade and in 1994 at their leaders' summit in Indonesia pledged to liberalise trade and investment to achieve freer trade.