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APEC leaders pledge green targets, resist European protectionist fears

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APEC leaders pledge green targets, resist European protectionist fears article image
This year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu has largely benefited Australian exports, with world leaders agreeing to a swathe of green energy initiatives and resolving to free up trade markets and keep protectionism at  a "standstill". The 21-member APEC forum committee pledged to cut tariffs on green goods to five percent by 2015 and set a goal of reducing the energy intensity of the particpating nation's economies by 45 percent by 2035, from 2005 levels. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, lauded the forum’s ambition and collaborative vision on tackling energy intensity  and setting clear energy efficiency targets, despite the open-ended, non-binding nature of the commitment. "APEC is setting an example to the world on clean energy and green growth," Gillard said. She also described the tariff action as "unambiguously good news" for Australian exports, fuelling trade growth with such reforms opening up the other APEC nations’ markets to Australian-made environmental products like solar panels, wind turbine parts, fuel cells and water saving devices. The leaders also made a commitment to building a "seamless regional economy", aiming to simplify trade for SMBs and bring regulations across the region in line with each other, all while vouching to keep markets open. Ms Gillard said the promotion of these reforms derived from a desire to help the performance of SMBs. "We’ve agreed to measures like having a regional database on regulations so the small and medium enterprises can improve their market knowledge and their ability to trade." With the fallout from the Eurozone crisis the elephant in the room, APEC leaders at the summit were determined to resist pressures of greater inwards protection and to assist SMEs in the region with exporting. "We recognize that further trade liberalization is essential to achieving a sustainable global recovery in the aftermath of the global recession of 2008-2009," the APEC leaders said in their joint statement. Ms Gillard added that reinforcing a free-market stance was the best thing for Australian businesses in the long term. "If we try and go back to the earlier days of closed markets, then that will disadvantage everyone and ultimately cost jobs. It’s good for facing the future rather than seeking a return to the past."

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