Britain is not an APEC member but will be watching with interest in light of its own vigorous wooing of Chinese investment, especially as a United States-backed free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific is on the table. 

The summit is a rare chance for such a wide range of top leaders to be in the same room, and the typical pledges of amity and trade convergence are often balanced by tense sideline exchanges on festering geopolitical problems.

TTP gathers pace, says Obama

Obama arrives wounded by the Democrats' defeat in the mid-term US elections and with US-Russian relations in the deep freeze, while Moscow warms to an increasingly assertive China.

President Barack Obama said he sees momentum building for the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP).

"During the past few weeks our teams have made good progress in resolving several outstanding issues regarding a potential agreement. Today is an opportunity for us at the political level to break some remaining logjams," Obama said at a meeting of TPP leaders at the US embassy"What we are seeing is momentum building around a Trans-Pacific Partnership that can spur greater economic growth, spur greater jobs growth, set high standards for trade and investment throughout the Asia-Pacific."

Russian ruble

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that state authorities are taking measures to stabilise the ruble exchange rate, following a week when the currency fell 8 per cent, its biggest weekly drop in 11 years.

The ruble is suffering from falling oil prices and sanctions over Ukraine.

“Russia is preserving macroeconomic stability and is conducting a balanced and accurate budget policy,” Putin said.

The country’s long-term goals for development remain the same, and it plans to expand trade in rubles and the Chinese yuan for exporting energy resources, he added

“We will be ready to expand these possibilities for trade in energy resources [trade in rubles and yuans]. These possibilities are currently being studied by our experts,”  he told APEC in his speech today. 

Russia and China both regularly express impatience with a perceived US domination of world affairs and often move in tandem on the UN Security Council, vetoing or abstaining from US-led initiatives.