Obama warns on exports as APEC summit starts

US President Obama called on surplus economies to end reliance on exports for growth, while his Chinese counterpart vowed to rely on domestic demand and gradually reform its currency.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sat 13 Nov 2010, 8:53 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:25 AM

The two leaders were speaking a day after a summit in Seoul of the Group of 20 major economies managed only vague commitments to keep a fragile global economic recovery on track.

“One of the important lessons the economic crisis taught us is the limits of depending primarily on American consumers and Asian exports to drive economic growth,” Obama said in a speech to a business leaders’ meeting.

Later, he joined join other leaders — including China and Japan — of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group for a weekend of talks on policies to ensure balanced growth and the establishment of a vast free trade area in the world’s fastest growing economic region.

“Going forward, no nation should assume that their path to prosperity is simply paved with exports to America,” Obama said on the final leg of a 10-day tour that has also taken him to India, Indonesia and South Korea.

Washington’s relations with Beijing have been strained by US complaints that China’s yuan currency is undervalued, while Beijing has argued the US Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy is aimed at weakening the dollar to boost exports.


Chinese President Hu Jintao said China wanted to expand domestic demand growth and remained committed to reforming its exchange rate “on the basis of retaining initiative, controllability and gradualness”.

Hu told the regional business forum that China “will make vigorous efforts to establish lastingly effective means for expanding domestic demand, especially consumer demand”.

China’s rapid growth has helped shore up the global economy and spur on Asia while the United States and Europe have struggled with high unemployment and financial woes.

“China will continue making encouraging a balanced international balance of payments an important task in ensuring macro-economic stability,” Hu said.

China has been critical of US easy money policies, claiming that Washington could destabilise the global economy and inflate asset bubbles after the US Federal Reserve announced it was going to pump as much as $600 billion into the economy.

Hanging over the summit are acrimonious disputes between host Japan and both China and Russia over neighbouring islands.

Hu barely smiled when he shook hands with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan as he welcomed APEC leaders to a lunch ahead of the start of their summit.

Japan has been pressing for a bilateral meeting between Kan and Hu, but the Chinese side has yet to agree.

Collective growth

Japan is at odds with China over disputed isles in the East China Sea near potentially vast oil and gas reserves.

Tokyo’s relations with Moscow also chilled after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited an island claimed by both countries. Medvedev and Kan, however, will hold talks later in the day.

APEC is for the first time championing a collective growth strategy, emphasising balanced and sustainable growth, an elusive goal when the global economy is split between cash-rich exporters and debt-burdened importers.

The leaders will pledge to take steps to create a vast Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in the region, home to 40 percent of the world’s population and 53 percent of global economic output, by building on existing pacts.

“There are two big themes to this year’s APEC,” Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan the business leaders.

“One is ... to further nurture liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment. It is to take steps towards FTAAP, a free trade area for flows in people, goods and money.

“It is also important for APEC members to share a common thinking so we can deal with new challenges facing global and regional economies and achieve sustainable growth.”

An Asia-Pacific free trade area would link the world’s top economies with some of its fastest-growing ones such as Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico.

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