Apec to rally against terror

Apec to rally against terror
PHOTO: AFP

MANILA: Leaders of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation economies are expected to condemn the Paris attacks at their annual meeting here in the next two days.

The leaders, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, arrived here yesterday amid a high security alert in the Philippine capital.

It is understood that a draft statement prepared for the leaders will demand a united voice from the global community and strongly condemn all forms and acts of terrorism.

Malaysian officials said although trade ministers did not discuss the Paris attacks at their meeting on Monday, each minister spoke on the attacks and they observed a minute's silence.

Apec meetings usually focus on trade and economic issues, but the Paris attacks, which killed more than 120 people, has caught the world's attention.

Najib held bilateral meeting with Xi yesterday and will meet his New Zealand and Vietnam counterparts separately tomorrow before attending the Trans Pacific Partnership meeting in the sidelines of the Apec Summit.

Meanwhile, International and Trade Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said five more economies in Apec have expressed interest to be part of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a further boost to the trade deal covering 40 per cent of the world economy.

He said these countries felt that they would be left out in efforts to turn the Asia Pacific region into a free trade area and it would be difficult for them to catch up with the 12 countries already in the TPPA.

Speaking to the Malaysian media after attending a series of meetings among Apec trade ministers on Monday, Mustapa said interest in TPPA was a good sign as the agreement was one of the building blocks towards realising a free trade area in Asia Pacific.

Another building block to creating a free trade area is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which unlike the TPPA is still being negotiated.

Mustapa declined to name the countries but Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea were among the countries that have expressed interest to join the TPPA.

"Several countries have asked Malaysia to support their participation in TPP as they don't want to be left out in a region set to be more competitive in trade," Mustapa said.

He also said that during his meetings with TPP trade ministers, he was informed that the criticisms against the TPPA had reduced.

"The noise has come down quite a bit in most countries since the conclusion of the negotiations.

"Even in Malaysia there were concerns on bumiputra issues but when the text came out some people became more comfortable because their interests were taken into account."

On the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), Mustapa said a strategic study report would be presented to Apec leaders when they meet in Peru next year.

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