At the 30th APEC Ministerial Meeting (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on November 15 adopted new guidelines on the quality of infrastructure development and investment, with all 21 economies agreeing to take into consideration recipients’ ability to pay back loans for such funding.

Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said after a meeting of APEC foreign and trade ministers in Papua New Guinea that the guidelines call for openness, transparency, cost-effectiveness and fiscal soundness of recipients as international standards for quality infrastructure financing.

The agreement comes at a time when countries such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan are saddled with massive debts after signing a series of big loan agreements, mostly from China.

The APEC ministers also affirmed the importance of upholding the free trade system despite concerns about US President Donald Trump’s “America First” trade policy.

They agreed to strengthen the role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as part of efforts to further promote the rules-based multilateral trading system.

Speaking to reporters separately, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the ministers agreed to further liberalise trade and investment within the APEC economies.

During the meeting, Kono called for an early conclusion of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a day after 16 members of the Asian free trade agreement failed to reach the deal by a year-end deadline.

He underscored the significance of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which is expected to come into force on December 30, saying the deal will help maintain and strengthen the free trade system.

The meeting took place before the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting slated for November 17-18 in Papua New Guinea.-VNA