WRAPUP 1-China sounds alarm on global economy at APEC summit

Sat Sep 8, 2012 1:32am EDT

* Hu echoes Putin with concerns on global economy

* Russia hosts APEC summit in Vladivostok

* Leaders to discuss food security, trade

By Timothy Heritage

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept 8 (Reuters) - China sounded the alarm about the state of the global economy on Saturday and urged countries gathering at an Asia-Pacific summit to protect themselves by forging deeper regional economic ties.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said his country would play a role in helping deepen cooperation between the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) by rebalancing its economy to improve the chances of a global economic recovery.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had also expressed concern about the world economy on Friday, and particularly about Europe's debt crisis, as he prepared to host the annual APEC summit in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

"The world economy today is recovering slowly, and there are still some destabilising factors and uncertainties. The underlying impact of the international financial crisis is far from over," Hu told businessmen in a speech before the summit.

"We will work to maintain the balance between keeping steady and robust growth, adjusting the economic structure and managing inflation expectations. We will boost domestic demand and maintain steady and robust growth as well as basic price stability," he said.

Hu said China was addressing problems such as creating jobs since its economic growth slowed. But China's economy remains dominant in Asia and it is key to Russia's decision to look eastwards as it seeks to develop its own economy.

Hu also announced a $157 billion government spending drive to boost infrastructure in agriculture, energy, railways and roads as well as pledging his country's support for greater trade liberalisation.

"We should improve and explore new mechanisms for infrastructure investment and financing, and encourage participation in infrastructure development by various actors," he said.

Hu steps down as China's top leader in the autumn after a Communist Party congress, but he promised continuity and stability for the economy.

Putin, who has just begun a new six-year term as president, said for his part on Friday that Russia would be a stable energy supplier and a gateway to Europe for Asian countries, and also pledged to develop his country's transport network.

PIVOTAL SHIFT

Russia sees the weekend summit as a chance to make a pivotal shift away from Europe, increasing political and economic links with countries in Asia that are showing relatively strong economic growth as Europe struggles with its debt crisis.

APEC, which also includes the United States, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Canada, groups countries around the Pacific Rim which account for 40 percent of the world's population, 54 percent of its economic output and 44 percent of trade.

Boosting trade and growth is vital for APEC as a whole as it tries to remove trade barriers that hinder investment.

Putin limped slightly as he greeted other leaders at the summit on Russky Island, linked to mainland Vladivostok by a spectacular new bridge that cost $1 billion, but aides said he had merely pulled a muscle.

Underlining Putin's good health, a spokesman said he had a "very active lifestyle."

Discussions at the two-day meeting will focus on food security and trade liberalisation. An agreement was reached before the summit to slash import duties on technologies that can promote economic growth without endangering the environment.

Ministers agreed on a list of 54 green technologies that will be subject to import duties of 5 percent or less from 2015, following through on a commitment made by leaders at the last APEC summit in Honolulu a year ago.

According to summit documents seen by Reuters, the list includes equipment used in generating power from renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind and biomass; treating waste water; recycling and environmental monitoring.

Breakthroughs are not expected on other trade issues at the summit, which U.S. President Barack Obama is missing. He has been attending the Democratic Party convention and Washington is being represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton also called for trade liberalisation and balanced economies in a speech to businessmen, saying "a balanced and stable economy is a challenge too sweeping and complex for countries to approach in isolation."

APEC is a consensus-based group that includes developed economies such as the United States and much smaller, developing economies.