YOKOHAMA, Japan, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies began their annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama on Saturday to set a vision for regional economic integration amid changing regional and global economic landscape.
The meeting, the second of two back-on-back meetings, opened around noon with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's welcome banquet for the leaders, many of whom flew into this bustling port city just south of Tokyo after attending a Group of 20 summit in South Korea.
After the first retreat session in the afternoon, the leaders will have a dialogue with APEC's business advisory body, the APEC Business Advisory Council.
The APEC region has been the world's leading growth center, although the global economic recovery remains weak in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Trade and foreign ministers meeting ahead of the summit acknowledged in their statement that APEC member economies "are now facing challenges, in particular, of addressing volatility, creating employment and reconsolidating finance, and continuing to keep a balance between recovery and the exit strategies of fiscal and monetary policies."
Under the theme of "Change and Action," the leaders will ponder the future direction for regional economic integration and formulate a new economic growth strategy to sustain economic recovery and lay the foundation for future prosperity.
Since its inception 21 years ago, APEC has worked actively in promoting regional economic integration, with a long-term vision of creating a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
The leaders are expected to discuss possible pathways to achieving the FTAAP, including existing frameworks like the ASEAN+ 3 and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The leaders will also discuss an assessment of the achievement of the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment, adopted at a 1994 APEC leaders' meeting in Indonesia.
The five developed economies -- the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand -- are subject to assessment at the Yokohama APEC meeting. Eight developing economies, including South Korea, Singapore and China's Hong Kong, volunteered to participate in the assessment this year.