Ministers from Pacific Rim countries have endorsed a call to formally start work on a free-trade initiative seen as an effort by China to raise its influence in trade policy.

Chinese officials say ministers meeting ahead of next week's gathering of leaders from the United States, China, Japan and other countries at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit also endorsed a proposal to cooperate on fighting official corruption.

The trade initiative — the Free-Trade Area of the Asia Pacific — comes out of earlier promises by APEC governments to liberalize trade. It is being promoted by Beijing in what analysts see as a Chinese effort to gain influence in U.S.-dominated global trade and financial regulation.