Obama warns nations not to rely on exports to US

Media caption,
President Barack Obama: "We don't want to lose the opportunity to create new jobs back home"

President Barack Obama has said no nation should rely on exports to the United States for growth.

He was speaking in Yokohama in Japan on the sidelines of the Apec summit.

Mr Obama said countries with a large surplus must take steps to boost domestic demand - in an apparent reference to China and Japan.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said his country was trying to increase domestic consumption, but any currency adjustments would come gradually.

The leaders of 21 nations are taking part in the meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (Apec), with talks focusing on ways to establish a free trade area in the region.

It follows a G20 summit in Seoul, which highlighted disagreements among members over trade imbalances.

Addressing business executives in Yokohama, President Obama said the economic crisis had shown the limits of depending on US consumers and Asian exporters to drive growth.

"Going forward, no nation should assume that their path to prosperity is simply paved with exports to America," he said.

He added that healthy competition need not cause rifts between nations.

"There's no need to view trade, commerce or economic growth as zero-sum games, where one country always has to prosper at the expense of another."

Taking the podium after Mr Obama, Mr Hu reaffirmed Beijing's commitment to gradual currency reform and balanced trade.

"China will continue making encouraging a balanced international balance of payments an important task in ensuring macro-economic stability," he said.

China-Japan talks

The BBC's Roland Buerk in Yokohama says the Apec meeting may have helped to resolve a row between Japan and China.

Image caption,
Anti-Chinese protesters demonstrated near the Apec venue

Relations have been tense since early September, when a Chinese trawler and Japanese patrol ships collided near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

President Hu held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the sidelines of the summit - their first formal meeting since the row began.

"I recognise that ties between Japan and China have taken a big step towards improvement," Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama told reporters.

Earlier thousands of Japanese took to the streets of Yokohama, waving flags and placards with slogans such as "defend our territory" and "defeat Chinese imperialism".

Japan's ties with Russia have also been coming under strain recently, after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited one of four islands claimed by both countries.

The dispute was discussed by Mr Medvedev and Mr Kan on the sidelines of the Apec meeting.

Mr Kan said the Russian president's visit had inflamed the feelings of the Japanese people, and the two nations must build mutual trust.

But speaking afterwards, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that his country's position was unchanged - and that Mr Medvedev would "decide for himself which region of Russia to visit".

"The president said it would be better to discard emotional statements and diplomatic gestures, because they do not help matters, quite the contrary," Mr Lavrov said.

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