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APEC Trade Ministers to Tackle Range of Issues in South Korea Meeting

Elite commandos from the South Korean National Police show off their readiness for this week's meeting of the trade ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group.

Trade officials from 21 countries gather Thursday and Friday on the South Korean island of Jeju to set the stage for November's APEC summit, which will be held in the South Korean city of Busan.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said the ministers will use the meeting to discuss trade liberalization. Mr. Ban said the meeting will focus on efforts to advance the so-called Doha Development Agenda.

Members of the World Trade Organization agreed on the Doha agenda for dropping trade barriers in 2001.

While the Jeju gathering is aimed at resolving issues that affect the organization as a whole, it is also a chance for member states to hold bilateral meetings.

The President of the American Chamber of Commerce in South Korea, Tami Overby, said those bilateral conversations are likely to keep U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, very busy. "I think there will be enormous competition for his time," she said. "This is his first trip to Asia, and everybody is going to want to talk to him. He will have time for Korea, as host."

Ms. Overby says Mr. Portman, who was sworn in last month, is likely to bring up South Korea's ban on U.S. beef imports, imposed after a cow in the United States was found to have mad cow disease.

Washington is also likely to seek progress in a dispute with China over its textile exports, which have surged since the end of global quotas in January. The United States has imposed curbs on some Chinese textiles, saying the flood of imports has wiped out thousands of U.S. jobs.

The APEC members also are expected to discuss intellectual property rights during the Jeju meeting. U.S. software, motion picture, and music producers say they lose billions of dollars each year to piracy in APEC nations, especially China.