APEC Leaders Take Front Role to Revive Global Trade Talks

 Asia Pacific leaders Saturday demanded a swift return to talks on tearing down global trade barriers, pledging their political readiness to make compromises to break the deadlock.

In an appeal they hope will revive the stalled Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, the leaders said it was essential to be flexible in negotiating positions and urged other trading blocs to follow suit.

"We have an urgent need to break the current deadlock and to put the negotiations back on a path toward a timely conclusion," they said in a statement issued shortly after the start of a two-day summit in Vietnam.

"We are determined to resume without further delay negotiations to achieve a balanced and ambitious outcome that works for all WTO members."

But the heads of state and government from the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which account for nearly half of world trade, also said their "partners in other regions" should do more.

The reference seemed to point to the European Union, which maintains state farm subsidies seen by developing nations as unfairly high.

Officials said the statement is intended to signal the Asia Pacific region's political commitment to reviving the Doha round of global trade talks.

Resuscitating the Doha round was a key agenda of the APEC meeting here this week amid warnings by officials and analysts that failure could divide the world into protectionist trading blocs competing against each other.

Here is the statement.

1.  We, the APEC Economic Leaders, celebrate Vietnam's accession to the WTO and the completion of a major milestone towards Russia's admission to the WTO. We intend to build on the energy and momentum generated by these historic events to meet the challenges we confront in the Doha Round.

2.  We reaffirm our collective and individual commitments to concluding an ambitious and balanced WTO Doha agreement. To meet this goal, we have an urgent need to break the current deadlock and to put the negotiations back on a path towards a timely conclusion. A successful Doha Round will contribute to global economic growth and to the alleviation of poverty. It must do so by creating new trade flows and by effectively addressing the development dimension.

3. APEC economies have a proud tradition of leadership on WTO matters. We are determined to resume without further delay negotiations to achieve a balanced and ambitious outcome that works for all WTO Members. Although agriculture remains the key to resolving the current impasse, we need to build an overall package covering market access for industrial goods and services, rules and trade facilitation. 

4.  We are ready to break the current deadlock: each of us is committed to moving beyond our current positions in key areas of the Round. That means making deeper reductions in trade-distorting farm support by major players, creating new market access in agriculture, making real cuts in industrial tariffs, and establishing new openings in services trade, while dealing seriously with Members’ concerns and sensitivities. All APEC Members are ready to lead, but others also must signal their readiness and resolve.

5. APEC's future is inextricably linked to a strong and vibrant multilateral trading system. We will remain personally involved to ensure that negotiations are resumed and will ensure the necessary flexibility and ambition to secure a breakthrough. We urge our partners in other regions to be similarly bold and engaged.

Source: APEC Vietnam 2006 website

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