The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group usually does not get too much done at its meetings. Nevertheless, as the following AFP/CNA report says, its members collectively represent a large part of the global economy.
HANOI : The drive for free trade emerged as the early focus of the annual Asia-Pacific forum as senior officials opened a week of talks in Vietnam ahead of a summit of leaders from 21 key economies.
North Korea's nuclear ambitions also feature large on the agenda after its shock October 9 atom bomb test and subsequent promise to return to six-nation disarmament talks.
For communist Vietnam, though, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting is perhaps above all a chance for East Asia's fastest-growing economy after China to underline its arrival on the world stage.
The banners are in place, security has been ramped up and a new convention centre built at a cost of nearly US$270 million to host Vietnam's biggest ever diplomatic event.
Hosts Vietnam last week received approval from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to become its 150th member (see Reuters story). Its average economic growth rate over the past five years has been 7.4 percent, higher than any other Asian country except China. With WTO membership, will it also replicate China's trade performance?
But China is not the only major Asian economy with a large trade surplus. AFP/CNA reports the latest current account balance for Japan:
Japan's current account surplus in September rose 9.4 percent year-on-year to 2.25 trillion yen (19.2 billion dollars), the finance ministry said Monday.
The surplus was higher than the consensus forecast of 2.01 trillion yen by economists polled by the business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
The trade surplus edged up 0.2 percent in the month from a year ago to 1.11 trillion yen, with exports rising 14.8 percent to some 6.49 trillion yen.
The income, which includes investment income and compensation of employees, increased 19.4 percent to about 1.21 trillion yen due to expansion in income from both direct investment and portfolio investment.