Peru rolls out red carpet: U.S., Canadian and South Korean presidents land in Lima for APEC Leaders’ Summit

Amid tight security, U.S. President George W. Bush — on what will likely be his final foreign mission before leaving office — landed in Peru Friday.

Hoping to broaden the roster of countries to support the global financial crisis multi-pronged strategy agreed to by the G20 economies last weekend, Bush and other leaders such as Canada’s Stephen Harper and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso will likely be pushing for heightened cross-border cooperation as well as keeping protectionism at bay.

On Saturday, brushing aside criticism of globalization, G20 leaders revealed a series of measures designed to stabilize the international financial system, fuel economic growth, and help emerging and developing economies affected by the crisis.

G20 leaders gathered in Washington also agreed not to impose any new trade or investment barriers for the next year.

Minister of Trade and Foreign Affairs from across the 21 APEC economies completed a draft document Friday to be examined and adopted by the world’s leaders Nov. 22-23.

“Our commitment,” declared the group of trade Ministers in an official statement released Friday, “is to strengthen regional cooperation through APEC to address the challenging financial and economic outlook, continue to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, support structural economic reforms, improve human security, and ensure that all members of our economies have the training and opportunities to benefit from globalization.”

So far, the resolution of the Doha Round of WTO negotiations, regional economic integration, corporate social responsibility, and opposition to protectionism have been main issues at APEC this year. International cooperation and multilateral initiatives, as well as public-private partnerships, are also considered a complement to domestic policy actions taken ahead of the crisis.

The draft document, expected to be very similar to the G20 communiqué and to be adopted at the conclusion of the APEC meeting, is also likely to address key issues such as free trade and trade liberalization, corruption, technical and economic cooperation, APEC reform, and, according to Peruvian Environment Minister Antonio Brack, climate change.

The Pacific Rim countries account for about half of the world’s commerce and population. And although APEC is not a formal negotiating body, but rather a venue for leaders to exchange thoughts and trade strategies, it remains a key tool for dialogue. The number of bilateral and free trade agreements between and among APEC members has soared in recent years.

Also in Lima for the weekend are Presidents Hu Jintao of China, Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, as well as Prime Ministers Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Kevin Rudd of Australia, John Key of New Zealand, and Somchai Wongsawat of Thailand.

Brunei Darussalam’s Sultan and one of the world’s richest men, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzadin Waddaviah also landed Friday in Peru’s capital, Lima, aboard his private and gold-adorned Airbus 340.

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