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Obama Arrives for APEC Summit


U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara as he arrives at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, 12 Nov 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara as he arrives at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, 12 Nov 2010

President Barack Obama wraps up his 10-day Asia tour with a stop in Japan. The president has arrived in Tokyo but he will be spending the next few days in the nearby city of Yokohama, where he meets with leaders from countries in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

President Obama arrived for the APEC summit Friday evening, following two days of economic talks in Seoul.

The president failed to secure a free trade agreement with South Korea before the Group of 20 meetings, which ended Friday.

And he made little headway in his push to get China to allow its currency to appreciate.

Despite the setbacks, Mr. Obama did not call the G20 summit a disappointment. And he praised the leaders for following through on earlier commitments to protect the global economy.

"The work that we do here is not always going to seem dramatic," he said. "It is not always going to be immediately world-changing. But step to step, what we're doing is building stronger international mechanisms and institutions that will help stabilize the world economy, ensure economic growth and reduce some tensions."

The U.S. recently has been criticized because of international fears actions that Federal Reserve actions to stimulate the economy will weaken the dollar.

The president's focus now shifts to APEC, where he will push for a regional free trade agreement. Washington is leading the effort for a Trans-Pacific Partnership that would cut import tariffs for nine countries, including Australia and Japan.

The U.S. hopes the TPP leads to the larger goal of free trade among all 21 APEC countries.

The president aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years, but he will need some help from the host country to do that.

While Japan has agreed to preliminary TPP talks, it faces fierce opposition from farmers who worry the pact would open the country to a flood of cheap imports. So far, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has refused to endorse the pact altogether for fear of political backlash at home.

Mr. Obama is also expected to tackle global economic imbalances with fellow leaders.

He could not convince the G20 leaders to commit to numerical targets on trade imbalances - but they did commit to establishing indicators to signal when trade imbalances are becoming too large.

Mr. Obama is hoping for more success in Yokohama - and there is added incentive for Washington to advance trade agreements with the APEC countries this year.

The U.S. hosts next year's APEC summit in Hawaii.

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