(10 Nov 2011) Vietnam’s president, Truong Tan Sang, flew into Honolulu on Thursday as an APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) forum got under way in Hawaii.
He is due to meet US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a series of discussions expected to focus on economic questions facing the Pacific Rim countries.
APEC’s activities encompass a wide range of issues, including climate change, energy and food security, and politics, but the spotlight in Honolulu will be on its original mission: promoting growth through trade and closer economic ties among Pacific Rim nations from Chile to China.
However, prospects for significant progress on establishing a Pacific-wide free trade zone, encompassing more than half the world’s economic output, remain unclear.
The US, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Peru are negotiating to join the bloc, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which already brings together the smaller economies of Chile, New Zealand, Brunei and Singapore.
China, which has not been invited to join the Pacific trade pact, says Washington’s goals are overly ambitious and run the risk of requiring concessions that might not take into account regional disparities in development.