SANTIAGO, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is poised to lead the international community in spurring free trade and multilateral integration, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera said on Wednesday.
Pinera spoke at the launching of APEC Chile 2019, a year-long series of meetings leading up to next year's APEC forum, which will be hosted for the second time by the South American country.
"The time has come for APEC to become what it was born to be: the largest, most innovative, most inclusive and most prosperous free trade initiative," Pinera told participants of a seminar at government headquarters in Santiago.
The agenda for 2019, which marks the 30th anniversary of APEC's founding, will focus on the digital economy, promoting small and medium-sized businesses, the role of women in economic growth, and sustainable development to combat climate change.
Over the years, the Asia-Pacific bloc founded in 1989 has helped to ease trade and foster greater multilateral exchanges, officials noted.
Some 20,000 delegates are expected to attend the November 2019 gathering, according to Chile's Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The bloc is home to 40 percent of the world's population, and accounts for 57 percent of global gross domestic product and 49 percent of global trade.
Chile hosted an APEC forum in 2004 in its capital Santiago.