APEC begins summit with focus on food and energy inflation, N. Korea

An annual meeting of Pacific-rim leaders started Friday in Bangkok with the focus on taming surging food and energy prices driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as well as realizing inclusive and sustainable growth of the region.

The launch by North Korea of what appears to have been an intercontinental ballistic missile, which fell within Japan's exclusive economic zone earlier Friday, is likely to draw attention at the two-day summit of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The APEC leaders are expected to address issues of climate change, as well as facilitating free, fair and sustainable trade and investment.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether they are able to issue a post-summit leaders' declaration, given a rift over Russia's aggression.

Western countries condemn Russia, but some member economies, such as China, have opted not to sanction Moscow.

However, other than that part, the APEC leaders are expected to agree on issues such as promoting free and fair trade and investment.

They are also expected to find common ground on the importance of transitioning to clean energy while ensuring energy security at the same time.

A day before the opening of the summit talks, ministers from the 21 economies welcomed the Bangkok goals, a post-COVID-19 pandemic growth strategy initiated by the Thai government addressing environmental and climate issues, pledging to urge the APEC leaders to endorse the goals at their gathering.

Despite differences over the Ukraine crisis among the member economies, including Japan, the United States and Russia, the leaders plan to adopt "Bangkok goals" for the Bio-Circular-Green Economy concept.

The APEC leaders are also slated for talks with the APEC Business Advisory Council on Friday, the sole official private-sector advisory entity for the APEC leaders' consultation comprising members from the 21 economies participating in APEC.

The Japanese members of the ABAC have handed Prime Minister Fumio Kishida their proposal to Asia-Pacific leaders before his departure for Southeast Asia, urging them to formulate ambitious and practical energy transition plans toward a low-carbon economy based on needs of economic growth, energy resilience and decarbonization among the forum members.

The APEC gathering will be the last of a series of summit meetings in Southeast Asia -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-related summits in Phnom Penh and the Group of 20 summit in Bali, along with bilateral and trilateral talks on the sidelines.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is attending the Bangkok summit in place of President Joe Biden. Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped it, as he did in the G-20 summit that ended Wednesday in Bali, Indonesia.

Representing about half of global trade and 60 percent of the world economy, APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

© Kyodo News