Initiative needed to tackle global economic upheaval: APEC chair

Indonesia, the chair of this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, urged member nations Friday to decide on initiatives to deal with the current global economic upheaval.

"The expectation that we produce is partly driven by the fact that we are meeting at a time where the challenges facing our economies are considerable," Indonesian Finance Minister Chatib Basri told his APEC counterparts at a two-day meeting that kicked off Thursday on Bali Island.

Elaborating on the challenges, Basri cited the high unemployment rates in some economies, highly volatile capital flows and a growth outlook that appears slower and less balanced.

"The world is now looking to see whether the APEC region, given its size and the role it plays in the global economy, can demonstrate its capacity to recover from economic fluctuations, and support the global economy by sustaining its own growth," Basri said.

He called for structural reform to build "strong fundamentals to support our economies."

Commenting on developments since the 2008 global financial crisis, Basri said the overall outlook was positive, with the global economy in better shape, and financial markets better regulated.

He added that many economies appeared to be on target to reduce their budget deficits.

The finance ministers are expected to further discuss ways to boost growth and strengthen regional resiliency amid concerns that the recent instability in emerging financial markets may more broadly impact the global economy.

The ministerial gathering is taking place two weeks after the leaders of the Group of 20 leading economies, at their summit in St. Petersburg, reiterated the need for industrialized countries to flexibly promote fiscal consolidation to prevent a recurrence of shocks such as the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

The APEC ministers are also expected to discuss trade finance as a means to facilitate trade activities in the region and the impact of global crises on trade finance.

APEC members Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, which are involved in the Asia Region Funds Passport scheme, are expected to sign a statement of intent, following the meeting in Nusa Dua.

Initiated by Australia, the scheme will provide a multilaterally agreed framework allowing the cross-border issuing of funds across participating economies throughout Asia.

APEC consists of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.