Nov. 11 - Asia Pacific countries press Europe to act fast, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner saying worries about Europe dominates hallway conversations. Marie-Claire Fennessy reports.
As world leaders started to arrive for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, APEC ministers pressed Europe to act fast to solve its debt crisis. This set the tone for a summit overshadowed by growing alarm over the fallout from euro-zone upheaval. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who met with Asia-Pacific finance ministers said Europe's worsening debt crisis dominated hallway conversations. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY, SAYING: "The discussions, certainly last night over dinner, and certainly in the hallways, were still overwhelmingly dominated by what you're seeing unfold in Europe. I think it's important to recognize though, as I said in my remarks, that these economies, including the United States, have the capacity to do things now to make growth stronger, both to offset some of the pressures we're facing from Europe, but also because, as a whole, even if Europe, even when Europe stabilizes, you're going to see growth damaged by the magnitude of the crisis so far." Geithner advised the APEC economies to boost their domestic demand. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY, SAYING: "So there's a very strong rationale in those economies, that have the capacity to do it, to act now to strengthen growth. It makes a lot of sense. In some ways, that's the best thing the Asian countries can do both for the global economy now and to limit their vulnerability to what's happening in Europe." He was also clear that the APEC summit would keep the heat on China, to let its currency appreciate. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY, SAYING: "I think the judgment of most independent analysts and economists who look at the Chinese exchange rate would say it's still significantly undervalued and that's one reason why, although I don't want to put words in their mouth, it's one reason why the Chinese believe that it's in their interest to let the exchange rate continue to move in response to market forces, and our judgment is that it's better for China, better for the world, better for the United States, if China allows the exchange rate to move more rapidly." Speaking ahead of the Asia-Pacific summit, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared the 21st century was "America's Pacific century". She stressed the Obama administration would seek improved ties with China. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON, SAYING: "We can work together on these objectives, but China needs to take steps to reform. In particular, we are working with China to end unfair discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies, and we are working to protect innovative technologies, remove competition-distorting preferences." The ministers met ahead of the APEC Leaders' Summit in November, which will be hosted by US President, Barack Obama. The event is being billed as an effort to make progress on building a new free-trade area, and advancing a "green" technology pact, to help foster global growth. Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters