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Asia-Pacific finance ministers vow to shun competitive devaluation

[MANILA] Twenty-one Pacific rim economies including the United States, China and Japan pledged Friday to avoid "competitive devaluation" of their currencies amid stuttering global growth, a joint statement said.

Finance ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) made the commitment at the end of their two-day meeting in the central Philippine city of Cebu.

The meeting was overshadowed by fears of an economic slowdown in China, the world's second largest economy, which last month suddenly devalued its yuan currency by nearly two percent, triggering turmoil in the global financial markets.

"We will refrain from competitive devaluation and resist all forms of protectionism," said the ministers' statement.

It made no mention of the currency devaluation of China, which has said the decision was aimed at moving towards a more flexible exchange rate.

Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei did not attend the Cebu meeting, with Beijing citing "domestic" issues, according to the hosts.

Like Lou, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso were represented at the meeting by lower-level officials.

The 21-member Apec, which also includes Australia, South Korea, Indonesia and Canada among others, together accounts for 57 per cent of the world's economic output and nearly half of global trade.

"Disruptions in the financial markets and raising long-term potential growth are key challenges," the ministers said Friday.

"We maintain our commitment to strengthen economic growth and promote financial stability in the Apec region."