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Asia – Pacific nations concerned on high oil prices

Ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), in which Russia plays a key role, will also discuss in Chile capital volatility and fiscal stabilisation.
The Asia – Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum begun on Thursday with a controversial issue at the top of the agenda: how to bring stability to the energy market. Finance Ministers from 21 countries with interests in the Pacific basin will also discuss in Chile’s capital, Santiago, capital stability and fiscal stabilisation, as well as new tools to monitor major cyclical phenomena and rush financial support to economies in need before such disturbances worsen.

At the opening session, IMF head, Rodrigo De Rato said that Asia-Pacific economies need to conserve energy because of rising oil prices "We believe it wrong to offer fiscal incentives to consume energy, moreover of imported energy, and policies ... should clearly translate into consumer conservation of energy," De Rato said.

Oil prices jumped again Wednesday, with New York prices closing at 44 dollars a barrel, after an announcement that US crude stocks had dropped for the fifth straight week raised supply worries. Representatives of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter American Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean will also attend the meeting in the Chilean capital.

"We stand before a new energy landscape, so all of us must consider ourselves in a situation that will not change, neither in the short or long term," Rato said. De Rato arrived in Santiago, after stepping by Buenos Aires, where he asked Argentina to better off its debt restructuring offer. Anti-IMF demonstrators had “welcomed” De Rato with a shower of stones and insults.

Japan's Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said Japan's fuel-efficient economy is resilient to oil price hikes, but cautioned that more surges would likely hurt developing Asian countries and in turn Japan. "I believe Apec ministers have an interest in how high oil prices would affect the regional economy," he said before heading to Santiago, according to Kyodo News Service.
Apec comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
The area embraces 2.5 billion consumers and an economy of 19 trillion dollars.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend to Apec’s annual summit in Chile on November 19-21. US President George W. Bush of the United States, President Hu Juntao of China and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan are also expected to show up.

Hernan Etchaleco

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