BY MIKE O’SULLIVAN – HONOLULU, HAWAII – US officials say the Asia Pacific region is less affected than other areas by the financial crisis in Europe and can stimulate worldwide economic growth.
Talks by finance and foreign ministers are taking place in Hawaii at the annual summit of APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. American officials say the Pacific region is increasingly important to the world economy.
Twenty-one member economies are taking part in the APEC summit in Honolulu, hosted this year by the United States.
Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Honolulu Thursday, as ministerial talks were under way.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in remarks at the East-West Center, said the United States will increase its Pacific investments in the coming decades.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the 21st century, the world’s strategic and economic center of gravity will be the Asia-Pacific, from the Indian subcontinent to western shores of the Americas,” Clinton said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking to reporters, said the crisis in Europe remains the central challenge to global growth. He says APEC finance ministers voiced support for last week’s pledge by the G20 leaders to work for global recovery. He says China can help through a more flexible exchange rate.
“China, in particular, must continue to allow its currency to strengthen, and China has acknowledged the importance of faster exchange rate adjustment,” Geithner said.
The United States hopes to expand Pacific trade, and to finalize a framework for a Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade zone. Talks now involve nine nations, including the United States, Australia, Peru, Chile and Vietnam.
President Barack Obama will arrive here Friday and meet with other Asia Pacific leaders over the weekend.