PM readies for APEC, North American summits

Trade, security and competitiveness are among the issues Prime Minister Stephen Harper will discuss as he heads to Hawaii on Friday to begin participation in two summits.

Trade, security and competitiveness are among the issues Prime Minister Stephen Harper will discuss as he heads to Hawaii on Friday to begin participation in two summits.

On the heels of the G20 talks in Europe, Harper will first turn his attention to the meeting of the 21 member economies in the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation.

"As a region that is increasingly driving global growth, Canada's engagement in the Asia Pacific is central to our own economic growth and prosperity," said Harper spokeswoman Sara MacIntyre at a briefing Thursday.

MacIntyre said that meeting, hosted by the U.S., will focus on three themes: regional economic integration, green growth, and regulatory co-operation and convergence. That will include working to develop future free trade areas of Asia Pacific and streamlining regulatory practices in APEC economies.

During the summit, the U.S. and other Pacific Rim nations will be negotiating on the sidelines on a new trade bloc called the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Observers have suggested Canada is not welcome in the new club because of supply management policies that block agricultural industries from foreign competition. MacIntyre said Canada hasn't decided whether it wants be a part of the TPP as it might not be in the country's best interests.

The U.S., Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Peru are negotiating to join the bloc, which already brings together the smaller economies of Chile, New Zealand, Brunei and Singapore.

Officials wouldn't say whether Canada would be negotiating behind the scenes at APEC to get back at that table, though Harper is expected to have a series of bilateral trade meetings on Saturday where the issue could be broached.

Following the APEC talks, Harper will meet U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon for the sixth North American Leaders summit.

Those talks will focus on North American competitiveness, citizen security and the Americas. 

With files from The Canadian Press