APEC leaders seek trade to buffer global risks

Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:05pm EST
 
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HONOLULU (Reuters) - Asia-Pacific leaders pledged on Sunday to pursue more trade and support clean energy to counter "significant downside risks" to the global economy.

In a declaration from their meeting in Honolulu, the leaders noted growth and job creation have weakened in many economies and said the financial challenges in Europe were contributing to broad uncertainty.

"These challenges have only strengthened our commitment to cooperation as the way forward," they said at the end of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

They pledged to fight protectionism and speed the transition to a low-carbon economy "in a way that enhances energy security and creates new sources of economic growth and employment."

They agreed to support trade in environmental goods and services by eliminating, by the end of 2012, domestic content requirements that U.S. companies have battled in China and other Asia-Pacific markets.

They also will develop a list of environmental goods where APEC members would agree to cut tariffs to 5 percent by the end of 2015, which could spur trade in many cutting-edge products.

"The commitment on environmental goods and services is huge. It's a tremendous deliverable for APEC," said Jake Colvin, a vice president at the National Foreign Trade Council, whose members include major U.S. manufacturers such as Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric.

In another important commitment, the leaders agreed to refrain from adopting or maintaining measures that essentially require companies to transfer the development or ownership of their intellectual property to participate in another APEC members' government procurement market.

U.S. companies have complained about such forced technology transfer policies in China.

(Reporting by Laura MacInnis and Doug Palmer; Editing by John O'Callaghan)