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Asia-Pacific free trade deal high on agenda at APEC meetings

Additional focus will be on developing infrastructure and financing, says executive director of the APEC Secretariat Alan Bollard

BEIJING, November 6. /TASS/. Creating a free-trade-zone in the Asia-Pacific alongside developing infrastructure and financing are high on the agenda of this week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Beijing, the forum's top official said on Thursday.

A pact known as the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific has been under discussion for years, but this year ministers of the APEC economies are expected to agree on FTAAP spheres of influence and information exchange in international trade, said Alan Bollard, executive director of the APEC Secretariat.

Additional focus will be on coordinating programs to bridge infrastructure and broader connectivity gaps created by rapid development of the Asia-Pacific, Bollard said. Ministers will discuss issues of consolidating several institutions, facilitating travel for business and tourism, and promoting student exchanges in the region, he said.

Attention will furthermore center on problems of environment protection and urbanization alongside implementation of some accident management programs, Bollard added.

This year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, hosted by China, will take place in Beijing from 5-11 November, and will include several high-level and other meetings, convened under the theme “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership”. Key events taking place during the week are the Concluding Senior Officials' Meeting from November 5 to 6, the 26th APEC Ministerial Meeting from November 7 to 8, and the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, from November 10 to11. Other events hosted during the week include the APEC CEO Summit, from November 9-10, APEC Business Advisory Council Dialogue with Leaders, and a number of bilateral meetings, also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum draws together leaders of 21 economies accounting for more than a third of the world's population, about 60% of global GDP and 50% of world trade volume. Members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, United States and Vietnam.