BALI: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will lead a Malaysian delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders Summit which begins today.
The meeting has been overshadowed by the absence of US President Barack Obama, who cancelled his trip to the summit and several Southeast-Asian countries including Malaysia, following a partial US government shutdown after a budget row in the Congress.
Obama is represented by Secretary of State John Kerry at Apec 2013.
Najib is expected to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from several countries, including Australia and New Zealand, and is also slated to attend the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) leaders’ meeting here.
The TPP is being pushed by Obama to create a Asia-Pacific free-trade area covering nearly 40% of the global economic output.
Protests have erupted over fears that it could open domestic markets to foreign competition.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin said Obama’s absence would mean several high-level meetings with other economic leaders would be cancelled.
It is understood that Najib will also meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono here.
This year’s summit, themed “Towards Resilient Asia-Pacific, Engine of Global Growth” signalled the importance of Asian economies in free trade and investments.
Security has been tightened at the Indonesian holiday island for the Apec summit, with the airport closed off to commercial traffic today, while security has been tight at hotels and Apec meeting venues.
Meanwhile, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said in Nusa Dua that trade and economic ministers at the Apec meeting here are studying common grounds in the areas of physical and social connectivity.
He said the ministers agreed that sustainable and equitable growth could be achieved with good physical connectivity in the form of ports, airports and roads to facilitate trade.
They are also looking at increased social connectivity to improve talent growth, including carrying out more student exchange programmes.
“Some of the less developed countries are facing financial hurdles as they need to optimise their national budgets for other important needs.
“They asked for easier trade movements and lesser taxations among Apec members.
“If we reduce trade hurdles and improve trade facilities, we can reduce such problems and help under-developed countries to improve their economies,” he told Malaysian media at the sidelines of the Apec trade ministers meeting.
On TPP negotiations, Mustapa said as a country practising an open economy, it should not stop efforts by others to invest in Malaysia.
“What is important is that we must carry out a cost-benefit effort.”
Mustapa said China-made textiles are getting cheaper in Malaysia, which benefit consumers.
“There are many positives in allowing foreign companies to do business in Malaysia. Jobs can be created for our people and our economic growth will improve as an open economy,” he added.