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APEC meetings open with talk of Pacific Rim free-trade pact

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 8:31 a.m. HST, Nov 7, 2010

YOKOHAMA, Japan » Officials from 21 Pacific Rim economies, including the U.S, China and Japan, have kicked off meetings that could move toward a bold goal -- creating a Pacific-wide free trade zone.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings this week in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, will culminate next weekend in a summit bringing together President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and 19 other leaders.

According to a draft of APEC's final communique obtained by The Associated Press, the leaders will agree to take concrete steps toward realizing a sprawling free trade area encompassing all 21 members.

But some members are cool to the idea and experts say it may be unrealistic.

APEC represents 44 percent of global trade and 53 percent of global GDP.

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