Senior officials from Asian Pacific countries met November 17th and 18th at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) in Kuala Lumpur. APEC comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. Russia, Peru, and Vietnam will join at this summit also. While the officials discussed the Asian economic crisis and how to contain the turmoil, the meeting focused on a plan which has been in the works for several years to lift tariffs in nine sectors covering $1.5 trillion dollars in global trade by 2020. The industries would be chemicals, forest products, medical equipment, energy, telecommunications equipment, environmental goods and services, gems and jewelry, fisheries, and toys. APEC's aim is free trade among the developed member nations by 2010 and developing countries by 2020. However, discussions were slowed by the Japanese, who are determined to protect its forestry and fishing sectors.
11/12/98 The delegates of the 18 member states of APEC began meeting Thursday before the APEC Summit. A stock trade mobilization program was the main topic of discussion. This meeting focused on a plan to open nine main trade sectors. Japan has refused to take part in opening its fisheries and forest product sectors. U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky has accused Japan of trying to derail the pact.
11/15/98 APEC failed to overcome Japanese refusal to agree to a schedule for cutting tariffs on forestry and fish products. Japan did allow negotiations to continue in al nine sectors of the proposed accord. Under the outline of the agreement, APEC nations will take their tariff cutting proposals to the World Trade Organization in Geneva. They also agreed to set a new deadline for next year's APEC summit in New Zealand.
11/16/98 The foreign ministers of Canada, Australia, and the United States met with Anwar's wife, Azizah Ismail. They expressed concern over the fairness of Anwar's trial on corruption and sex charges. This was the first time that human rights concerns were being discussed by the leaders, whose goal is to promote free trade in the region.
11/17/98 U.S. Vice President Al Gore delivered a speech before the APEC members declaring that "economic recovery can and must start in Asia." U.S. officials also said that Japan and America were close to an agreement to tap resources from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and Japan to restructure corporate and financial debt.
11/18/98 After the second day of the summit, the leaders issued a communique detailing plans to revitalize Asia's private sector and reinforce its social safety net. They also endorsed a plan to liberalize trade in nine sectors. And the leaders approved of a $10 billion U.S.-Japan initiative to help companies and banks struggle with bad email@example.com