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Chinese President Tackles Trade, Climate at APEC Business Summit

  • Nancy-Amelia Collins

The annual business summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group kicked off in Sydney with China's President Hu Jintao tackling the key issues of climate change and trade liberalization. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins reports from Australia's largest city, where the leaders of APEC's 21 members are gathered.

Chinese President Hu Jintao opened the summit of APEC business leaders by outlining problems facing their economies.

"Problems such as growing imbalances in the world economy, rising trade protectionism, mounting pressure on energy resources, and the increasingly acute issue of climate change pose grave challenges to all countries and regions which are endeavoring to build a sustainable future," he said.

Mr. Hu also acknowledged climate change as an urgent challenge but insisted it must be dealt with within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.

"Climate change is an environmental issue, but ultimately it is a development issue," he said. "We should, within the context of sustainable development, uphold the United Nations framework convention on climate change and its Kyoto Protocol as the core mechanism and the main avenue of cooperation."

Developed nations such as the United States and Australia want to use APEC as a forum to forge a new framework outside the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol seeks to cut greenhouse emissions, thought to be a major contributor to global warming. It mandates cuts for developed countries that implement the protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol does not require developing nations, including China, to cut emissions. Since China and other emerging economies such as India are rapidly increasing their pollution levels, the U.S. and Australia, both major polluters, call Kyoto unfair and are not implemented it.

APEC Business leaders also want to see the stalled World Trade Organization negotiations, known as the Doha Round, revived.

Mr. Hu says the talks must move forward quickly.

"The WTO Doha Round negotiations are now at a critical juncture. We must say no to trade protectionism, eliminate trade barriers, and move the Doha Round negotiation toward a comprehensive and balanced outcome at an early date," he said.

The talks are stalled over disputes on how to cut trade barriers in farm goods, industrial products and services.

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