I am very pleased to be joining my ministerial counterparts at the APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting in Kyoto, Japan, where we will focus on efforts to support economic growth and development in our region.
This meeting comes at an important time for Australia given we are not immune from a fragile world economy experiencing a patchy recovery.
APEC is our region's key economic forum and has a major role to play in supporting global economic recovery and development. Strong and stable economic growth in our region is critical to the future prospects of the Australian economy, in particular our key export industries.
APEC can make a special contribution to supporting the global recovery by deepening G20 policy discussions and delivering initiatives that help strengthen and rebalance regional growth.
At a Ministers only session I will outline the importance of countires having sound fiscal frameworks in order to ensure budgets remain sustainable. In doing so, I will highlight Australia's foresight in implementing a strict fiscal strategy that underpins our return to surplus, far quicker than that of any major advanced economy.
The membership of APEC underscores the uneven nature of the global recovery. While most of the developing countries in our region have returned to solid rates of growth, developed countries such as Japan and the United States continue to struggle to recover from the worst global recession in 75 years.
We are also seeing striking divergence in the fiscal positions of APEC economies, which is why it will be a key focus of our discussions tomorrow. While Australia's net government debt is expected to peak at around 6 per cent in 2012, some APEC economies face net government debt many times this, with net government debt in our host country Japan currently over 100 per cent.
Together with my colleagues, I will discuss the economic outlook in the Asia-Pacific. I am also keen to hear regional perspectives on the G20 and to discuss priority issues in APEC including infrastructure finance and structural reform.
A valuable message that APEC can send from this meeting is one of common resolve to support the recovery, and I welcome the opportunity that this meeting brings to work with our regional counterparts towards that objective.
6 November 2010