Free trade focus at APEC forum

Already accounting for half of all global economic activity, Pacific Rim nations have gathered in Japan for the annual APEC summit, seeking to expand their influence and boost free trade.

The leaders of the 21 member states of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum are in the port city of Yokohama for two days of talks.

The meeting follows the G20 summit which wrapped up on Friday in the South Korean capital Seoul and was overshadowed by currency conflicts and disputes over trade imbalances.

The APEC group is focusing on free trade agreements and opening up their economies further.

There have also been bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the forum. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with US President Barack Obama on Sunday to discuss the New START treaty. If the agreement is ratified by the US Senate and Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, it would see American and Russian nuclear arsenals slashed by a third.

On Saturday, Medvedev met with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to discuss economic issues and the territorial dispute over the South Kuril Islands. Medvedev’s recent visit to one of the islands prompted an angry reaction from Tokyo.

Despite this, the Russian and Japanese leaders agreed to move forward, talking about economic cooperation for the benefit of both countries.

Japan understands that disrupting relations with Russia does not serve its national interests,” explained Dmitry Streltsov, from Moscow State University of International Relations.

For Kan, the main objective was to show his position over the dispute, but not to spoil relations with Russia completely.”