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Business and political leaders gather for APEC

(CNN) -- The political and economic elite of countries that account for more than half the world's GDP are gathering this week in Singapore for the 20th anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

"Since its founding 20 years ago, APEC's steadfast efforts to keeping pushing for open markets and free trade have made a tremendous contribution to boosting growth and prosperity in the region," said Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore minister of trade and industry, in a speech last month.

"The issue of how to re-position the Asia-Pacific economies for new growth paradigms has been a preoccupation in the APEC meetings that Singapore has been chairing this year," he said. "It will occupy our Leaders' minds when they gather in Singapore next month for the Summit. It cannot be `growth-as-usual1 going forward."

The Asian economies represented include China, which is widely seen as leading the region -- and the world -- out of recession, as well as Japan and Singapore, two export-driven economies who were hard hit by the financial crisis.

The weeklong series of events runs November 8-15, including the Voices of the Future meetings for youth delegates from APEC's 21 member economies, the CEO Summit and the APEC Economic Leaders meeting, which will anchor U.S. President Barack Obama's first Asia trip.

APEC's 21 Member Economies are Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People's Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Republic of the Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; Viet Nam