Finance and trade ministers meeting in Singapore for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum have agreed the global economic recovery is still fragile and more coordinated efforts are needed for sustained growth.
Ministers from 21 Pacific Rim economies discussed sustaining growth and connecting the region.
The economic leaders issued a statement saying although most economies are now recovering from last year's financial crisis, the recovery remains fragile and growth over the next few quarters is likely to be uneven.
The United States Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says while inflation is low across most major economies there are very high levels of unemployment. He says more efforts are needed to ensure an early economic recovery.
|US Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner (L) talks to a fellow minister at a joint APEC Finance Ministers press conference in Singapore, 12 Nov 2009|
"Right now the challenge is growth ... let us make sure we have a business confidence restored, private investment expanding again, unemployment coming down, financial sectors definitively repaired. That is our basic challenge now," he said.
Geithner says it will take some time to bring down unemployment levels, which in October reached a 26-year high in the United States.
The ministers agreed on the need to find new ways for sustaining economic growth, which has largely depended on the U.S. market.
Geithner says the United States is seeing signs of a shift to saving more and borrowing less. He says private investment and exports are growing again.
"But what it means is, if the world is going to grow at the rate it can in the future, the rest of the world is going to have to shift to more domestic sources of growth, investment, and spending," he said.
In the statement, APEC economies with large deficits pledged to encourage private savings, while those with large surpluses pledged to strengthen domestic growth.
APEC ministers, including China, also agreed to pursue "market oriented" exchange rates. China has been accused of keeping its currency, the yuan, artificially low to boost exports. But, ministers played down currency exchange concerns.
Singapore's Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said none of the ministers called for any sudden or significant change in exchange rates, but said they should remain flexible.
The finance and trade ministers were meeting before an APEC summit this weekend that is to include U.S. President Obama on his first trip to Asia as president.