World leaders gather in Bali for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings despite the absence of US President Barack Obama, with inclusive trade poised to take a lead role due to increased lobbying by host Indonesia, an official said here on Saturday.
Indonesia, as the Host of APEC for 2013, which is themed " Resilient Asia-Pacific -- Engine of Global Growth," is seeking to make progress in three priority areas: attaining the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the region, achieving sustainable growth with equity, and promoting connectivity.
Indonesia is lobbying to gain wide approval for its plan to reduce tariffs for products that contribute to poverty reduction as well as promoting rural and sustainable development.
They believe that this will finally break stalled multi-lateral trade talk among APEC members that have been deadlocked since the Doha Round in 2008.
This is all the more important as APEC's 21 member economies account for almost 2.8 billion people and over half of the world's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"We are going all out with the lobbying. In my view the new framework will be more inclusive than the existing environmental goods list," Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan told media on the sidelines of the ongoing APEC Ministerial Meeting.
On Tuesday, during APEC Senior Official Meeting, Indonesia proposed a draft of a stand along leaders' statement that reaffirms its commitment to a multi-lateral trading system, which include aggressive promotion of the new tariff framework and retreat from protectionist policies.
Despite the absence of U.S. President Obama's presence, seen as important in pushing ahead with rejuvenating the World Trade Organization (WTO) to promote multi-lateral trade among APEC members, South Korean, New Zealand, Canadian and Australian leaders are winging their way to Bali to attend the series of meetings.
Of the meetings, the 21st APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, which started on Monday, is expected to be the highlight.
"Commercial flows between Canada and its Asia-Pacific partners are essential to promoting jobs and economic growth here at home," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said ahead of his trip to Bali.
"I look forward to attending these meetings in Southeast Asia to further Canada's interests, advance regional trade liberalization and promote Canada as a business partner of choice, " Harper said.