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APEC Forum to Meet on Global Trade Impasse, Regional Security


Senior officials from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group are converging on Hanoi for a weeklong forum on regional and global issues, beginning on Sunday.

Global trade liberalization is the main topic for most of the Pacific Rim states that make up APEC.

With World Trade Organization negotiations at a standstill in a farm-subsidies dispute, representatives of APEC's 21 economies are expected to sign a so-called Hanoi Action Plan restating their commitment to free and open trade.

President Bush is arriving in Vietnam later in the week for the summit portion of the APEC forum, along with heads of state from Russia President Vladimir Putin, China President Hu Jintao and other nations.

The leaders are expected to meet privately during the summit, which also will focus on security issues following North Korea's underground nuclear explosion last month.

North Korea's neighbors and other states are concerned about economic disruptions if the nuclear crisis remains unresolved.

How to block terrorists' financial transactions is another security question before APEC, along with action against money laundering and other regional abuses of financial systems.

President Bush will be visiting Singapore and Indonesia after leaving the APEC summit.

In addition to the United States, Vietnam, China and Russia, APEC's 21 member economies include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Also, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, SIngapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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