This weekend saw the annual APEC leaders meeting, and, as expected, trade and climate issues were high on the agenda. Leaders looked to be moving to limit the political damage of any failure to agree a binding climate deal in Copenhagen next month, with Barack Obama and other leaders saying the summit should instead be seen as a stepping stone.
The New York Times reports:
‘At a hastily arranged breakfast on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting on Sunday morning, the leaders, including Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the prime minister of Denmark and the chairman of the climate conference, agreed that in order to salvage Copenhagen they would have to push a fully binding legal agreement down the road, possibly to a second summit meeting in Mexico City later on.’
One area where there was some movement was on the issue of trade, with leaders endorsing the idea of a region-wide free trade zone, something that would undoubtedly be preferential to the mishmash of bilateral agreements in the region.
But one of the most interesting questions for the 21-member club moving forward is who will be allowed to join next. A moratorium on new entrants expires next year, with countries including India keen to join.
APEC is now torn between those who believe the club should consolidate first, and those who want further expansion. Japanese officials have already reportedly been grumbling about the pressure of dealing with the issue when they host the summit in Yokohama next year.