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APEC Econ Ministers to Meet in China - 2001-09-06

Top economic officials from the nations responsible for more than half of global trade gather in China over the next few days, trying to find ways to reverse the global economic slowdown. Finance ministers and other officials from the 21 Asia-Pacific nations of APEC are expected to discuss efforts to boost exports and press ahead with needed economic reforms.

Before even arriving at the APEC meeting in China, Japanese officials expressed concern about changes in the relative value of the dollar and the yen that are making it harder for Japan's exporters to help revive the country's stagnant economy. Top U.S. officials plan to talk to Tokyo about exchange rates, as well as economic reforms needed in Japan.

China, host of this year's series of APEC meetings, says this is the kind of economic discussion and possible cooperation they are meant to foster.

Such cooperation is badly needed, because economic problems are hurting most of APEC's 21 member countries.

As delegates gathered for the opening ceremony, Chen Chun, of Taiwan's delegation, said officials hope to stabilize the financial and monetary markets. Mr. Chen says the economic problems are affecting the whole world right now, not just Asia's export-oriented economies.

But Pablo Correa of Chile's delegation says he expects a recovery strong enough to "make your eyes pop."

Before departing for the meeting, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said he expects the U.S. economy to pick up in the next few months and into next year. That would be good news for battered Asian economies, which have used exports to the U.S. market to help overcome previous downturns.

But Mr. O'Neill says the United States cannot be the sole engine of economic recovery, and Asian nations will have to make economic reforms, if they hope to regain prosperity.

Such reforms are politically unpopular in many countries and have stalled along with the economy in Japan and elsewhere.