Welcome to Beijing to attend the 26th APECMinisterial Meeting. It gives me great pleasure to co-chair this meeting with my colleague, Minister ofCommerce Gao Hucheng.
Attending today’s meeting are ministers or ministers’representatives from APEC economies, executivedirector of the APEC Secretariat, president of the APEC Business Advisory Council andobservers. We wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you.
Today is a special day. Twenty-five years ago today, APEC held its first ministerial meeting inCanberra, Australia and adopted the first joint statement. That was perhaps a small steptaken by APEC, but it was a big one for Asia-Pacific cooperation, as it started a great journeyof Asia-Pacific economies working together to pursue development, progress and prosperity.
Twenty-five years on, our world has seen great changes and the Asia-Pacific has come a longway in development. The Asia-Pacific has gone through transformation amidst globalization,maintained growth momentum despite two financial crises, and strived for openness andgrowth in the multilateral trading system. It has become an engine driving global growth, apioneer of free trade and a standard-bearer of open economy.
Twenty-five years on, APEC has, responding to the call of our times, made importantcontribution to the economic growth and better life of the people in our region. APECmembership has grown from 12 to 21, its total population increased from 800 million to 2.8billion, and its economic aggregate grown from US$10 trillion to US $50 trillion. Its averagetariff level has dropped from 17% to 5%.
Twenty-five years on, historic changes have taken place in the relationship between the Asia-Pacific and the world. The Asia-Pacific takes the lead in promoting exchanges and cooperationwith other regions in the world. Today, more than ever, the world needs a harmonious,progressing and prosperous Asia-Pacific. Our mission is both to promote our own developmentand lead global growth, and we face both unprecedented opportunities and challenges.
In the face of new conditions, APEC must fulfill the mission of our times and demonstratestrategic vision. It should unleash development momentum and play a leadership role increating an even better future for the Asia-Pacific.
We should build a dynamic Asia-Pacific economy. We should deliver benefits through reform,generate momentum through innovation and tap potential through growth and thus createa powerful engine to fuel the Asia-Pacific economy. We should get on the express train ofurbanization and application of information technologies and give greater support to neweconomic models such as the Internet economy, green economy and blue economy. We shouldleap over the middle income trap, overcome other difficulties and remain in the driver’s seat asthe global industrial division of labor undergoes significant adjustments and changes.
We should build closer partnerships. APEC members are neighbors that cannot be moved away.We should become partners who coordinate our policies, act in good faith, live in harmony,and treat each other with sincerity. We should be partners who share the same goals andstrive to make the pie of the Asia-Pacific cooperation bigger. We should be partners who areopen and inclusive, respect diversity and accommodate each other’s comfort level. Weshould exchange views in an amicable way. When problems emerge, we should seek ways toaddress them through consultation.
We should enhance cooperation that creates mutual benefit. The Asia-Pacific is an integralwhole, and we need to create a vision for its development that meets the interests of us all. Weshould bring benefit to all and achieve common development. APEC should fully play itsleadership and coordinating role to promote the establishment of an open, inclusive, balancedand win-win new architecture for Asia-Pacific economic cooperation.
We should foster a sound and favorable development environment. We need to strengthenunity and mutual trust to ensure Asia-Pacific cooperation and enhance coordination onmacro-economic policies to create greater and positive amplifying effects. We should jointlytackle global challenges to make the Asia-Pacific economies more resilient to risks, and weshould increase input in economic and technical cooperation developing members achievecommon development.
Based on these considerations, China has proposed taking “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership” as the theme for this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and that threepriorities, namely, “Advancing Regional Economic Integration”, “Promoting InnovativeDevelopment, Economic Reform and Growth” and “Strengthening Comprehensive Connectivityand Infrastructure Development”, be considered by the meeting. Our initiative has receivedextensive support from all APEC members. Over the past year, through in-depth discussions inthe committees, working groups and friends of the chair groups, the members have madesteady progress by putting forward about 100 cooperation initiatives, thus laying a solidfoundation for making the leaders’ meeting a success.
In two days, the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will be opened at Yanqi Lake. This willbe an important meeting for APEC as it enters a new stage of development. The central task ofthe ministerial meeting is to make political preparations for the leaders’ meeting. Thanks to thejoint efforts of all member economies, fruitful progress has been made in various fields ofAPEC cooperation. We need to intensify efforts in the run-up to the leaders’ meeting tofurther expand consensus and adopt the joint statement of the ministerial meeting to besubmitted to our leaders. On this basis, we should step up consultations on the outcomedocuments for the leaders’ meeting and work for early agreement on them. At present, basicagreement has been reached on the outcome documents of the leaders’ meeting. What weneed to do is to maintain confidence in achieving our goal, lock up the agreement alreadyreached and work rapidly to reach agreement on outstanding matters through consultations.At the same time, we should remain committed to the spirit of Asia-Pacific partnership andjointly uphold APEC as an economic and trade forum and, taking a constructive approach,focus our efforts on discussing economic cooperation to create a good atmosphere for theleaders’ meeting.
As it is pointed out in the Chair’s Summary of the first ministerial meeting, “by sustaining thespirit of goodwill and flexibility which has been shown at this meeting, we can develop Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to benefit not only the region, but to enhance worldwideeconomic prospects.” Bearing in mind the commitment of the ministers, let us shoulder thehistorical responsibility, build on the current achievements and forge ahead, and I am surethat we can help make the leaders’ meeting a fruitful one with far-reaching significance.