Accessibility links

APEC Ministers Preview 'Bold Statement' on World Trade


Senior ministers from Asian and Pacific nations have agreed on what they call a "bold" statement to push the global free trade agenda. They are also pledging more cooperation on anti-terrorism efforts and preventing a human epidemic from bird flu.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon says it is time for all nations to make concessions in the interest of freer trade. Mr. Ban says trade and foreign ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, or APEC, have agreed on a statement pushing for a breakthrough at December's meeting of the World Trade Organization.

It calls for all WTO members to make trade concessions, especially in the form of lower tariffs, increased market access, and reduced export subsides.

The global trade body has been deadlocked on reaching new liberalization goals set in Doha, Qatar, in 2001. The most contentious issue has been that of agricultural subsidies.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Portman says next month's Hong Kong meeting is a make-or-break opportunity to put the Doha agenda forward. "Doha is key to this region - but also the global economy," he said. "Because this is a once in a generation opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of our citizens through expanding trade."

The ministers' statement is expected to be adopted by APEC leaders at their summit later this week.

Asia-Pacific ministers also drafted another statement for action on wide-ranging issues that affect or threaten global trade.

They are vowing to reduce violations of intellectual property rights - such as movie piracy - to make the oil markets more transparent and to act collectively to fight terrorism and prevent a human epidemic of bird flu.

On the anti-terrorism front, APEC members say they will conduct tests of their airports, to ensure planes are safe from shoulder-fired missiles, which are relatively easy for terrorists to obtain. And they are forming plans to raise public awareness and the availability of drugs to counter a possible avian flu outbreak in their populations.

XS
SM
MD
LG