JAPAN promised yesterday to make a success of a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders it is hosting later this month. But some trade experts worry imagery may overshadow substance at the meeting.
Leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum who will meet on Nov. 19 in Osaka aim to adopt a blueprint for achieving the group's bold plan to scrap regional trade and investment barriers by the year 2020.
Katsuhisa Uchida, a Foreign Ministry official, said senior APEC officials have thrashed out most of the ''Action Agenda,'' a blueprint for implementing the plan.
The farm-trade dispute pits exporters such as the United States and Australia, which insist no sectors be excluded from the free-trade plan, against Japan, China, South Korea, and Taiwan, which want special treatment for the sensitive sector.
Mr. Uchida said no final decision had been made on how to ensure that each member's individual free-trade plan was roughly comparable to other members' plans. Nor have members agreed on whether APEC would ultimately become a free-trade area like the European Union, which could discriminate against non-members under world trade rules.
Despite these and other lingering issues, many analysts expect APEC leaders to forge some agreement that will allow them to declare their meeting a success.