Harper not keen on APEC's recovery 'timeline' for financial crisis

The global financial crisis will be overcome by mid-2010, leaders of the 21 member countries attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima said Sunday. But that timeline didn't sit well with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The global financial crisis will be overcome by mid-2010, leaders of the 21 member countries attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima said Sunday in an amended communiqué.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, said he wasn't comfortable with that sort of "timeline," pointing out more immediate actions are in the works to solve the crisis.

The 2010 forecast emerged at the end of the leaders' two-day summit in the Peruvian capital.

"We are convinced that we can overcome this crisis in a period of 18 months," the communique said. "We have already taken urgent and extraordinary steps to stabilize our financial sectors and strengthen economic growth."

The statements were added early Sunday to a joint declaration that APEC leaders originally issued Saturday.

One delegate, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the changes were made at the request of the summit's host, Peruvian President Alan Garcia.

Sees 'shorter timelines'

Harper said at a news conference it "would be premature to speculate on that kind of timeline" and his government is committed to acting as fast as possible.

"We've been taking unprecedented financial action in the financial sector and monetary actions — unprecedented large-scale actions recently," he said.

"And we may well …undertake, for our government anyway, unprecedented fiscal action. But we'll be operating on shorter timelines than that."

U.S. President George W. Bush, right, meets Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the APEC summit in Lima on Saturday. ((Lawrence Jackson/Associated Press))

On Saturday, the leaders pledged to avoid trade protectionism but shied away from any new proposals on repairing the world's economy.

They said they were committed to avoiding new trade barriers over the next 12 months. They also promised to push for the revival of world trade negotiations that collapsed in July after seven years of talks.

"The current situation highlights the importance of ongoing financial sector reforms in our economies," the leaders said.

Delegates acknowledged there was little incentive to propose more concrete action without the support of U.S. president-elect Barack Obama, who takes office in January and did not send representatives to Lima.

The conference was U.S. President George W. Bush's final international summit before leaving office.

On Saturday, Bush sounded wistful about his last days in office as he and Harper posed for the cameras.

"Laureen and I certainly wish Laura and you all the best if I don't see you again before the 20th of January," said Harper, to which Bush quipped, "Before forced retirement."

Bush praised Harper as "a good friend and a strong leader" and said the two countries have "accomplished a lot together."

The APEC group accounts for more than half the world's trade activity and includes the U.S., Japan, Russia, Indonesia, Australia, Canada and Mexico.

With files from the Associated Press