WASHINGTON – The leaders of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum pledged to act “quickly and decisively” to reverse the global economic slowdown and complete global trade liberalization talks, as they wrapped up their two-day meeting Sunday.

In a declaration released Sunday, the leaders called for a “prompt, ambitious and balanced conclusion” to the stalled Doha round of World Trade Organization global trade liberalization talks.

The final declaration by leaders of the U.S., Japan, China, Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries confronts the slowing global economy and says member countries will take “all necessary economic and financial measures” to resolve the global financial crisis.

APEC supports efforts by export credit agencies, international financial institutions and private banks to ensure adequate financing is available for businesses and to keep trade and investment flowing in the region, the leaders said in an earlier statement Saturday.

On Saturday, the leaders – U.S. President George Bush among them – also said the global financial crisis could be overcome in a year and a half.

“We are convinced that we can overcome this crisis in a period of 18 months,” the Saturday statement said.

The countries also pledged to refrain from raising new trade and investment barriers and to hold off on imposing new export restrictions. The leaders also asked officials from their countries to report back to them next year about plans for creating a regional free-trade zone.

“Our goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region will be achieved through a series of unilateral reform measures combined with bilateral, regional and multilateral liberalization,” the leaders’ statement said on Sunday.


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