The third Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Meeting (SOM III) closed on Sunday in central Da Nang city after a two-week seating.
The meetings recorded progress since last year and aimed to sum up new goals to be proposed at APEC 2006 in Ha Noi this November.
APEC 2006 SOM chair and Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Cong Phung said Viet Nam has played the active role as a host and made considerable contribution to the success of SOM III with many praiseworthy initiatives.
With WTO talks temporarily postponed in the context of the impasse of the Doha Round of the WTO negotiations, SOM III participants were unanimously determined to call on countries, particularly those playing important roles, to resume negotiations as soon as possible.
They also agreed on the special significance of the APEC economic leaders' meeting scheduled for late this year, saying it would possibly help re-start and revive the Doha Round negotiations.
The meeting also adopted the draft Ha Noi Action Plan to implement the Busan roadmap to reduce tariffs, proposed at APEC 2004 in Santiago Chile. This will also help to achieve the Bogor free-trade goals proposed by Viet Nam and approved by APEC leaders in the Republic of Korea last year.
Thirdly, SOM III discussed 14 drafts of reference model articles for the development of agreements for Regional Trade Area/Free Trade Area (RTA/FTA) among APEC member economies.
Around five or six articles are also expected to be submitted by SOM officials to APEC ministers for approval.
SOM III also adopted the draft Action Plan on trade facilitation, aimed at reducing transaction fees on five percent of all transactions from 2006 to 2010. Trade facilitation is part of APEC's “Three Pillars”: (1) trade and investment liberalization, (2) business facilitation and (3) economic and technical cooperation.
Finally, the meeting spent much time discussing APEC reforms. This was the first time this issue was brought to serious debate with the enthusiastic participation of all member economies. The host country put forth three directions for APEC reform, namely enhancement of "APEC's operational efficiency, alliance and flexibility".
|APEC 2006 SOM chair and Deputy Foreign Minister Le Cong Phung:|
At SOM and related APEC meetings, delegates were impressed by Viet Nam’s successful organization, as the country is still a small, developing APEC economy. The most outstanding result of APEC 2006 that Viet Nam has reached so far is the country’s heightened position in the international arena. Viet Nam will have a chance to receive five top leaders of APEC member countries, including US President G.W. Bush, Chinese General Secretary-President Hu Jintao, Russian President V. Putin, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Japanese PM J. Koizumi, next November.
Head of Russian SOM delegation Vasily Dobrovolskiy:
Viet Nam has organized an excellent APEC year so far. I do not only think, but fully believe the APEC summit in Ha Noi will be successful. Viet Nam has a positive image in the region and in the world. From now on, the world will see APEC 2006 as an important landmark in the global trade development history.
Head of US SOM delegation Michael W. Mchalak:
Everything that has happened so far with APEC Viet Nam is near perfect. Viet Nam has prepared the content of meetings thoroughly and put forward many good initiatives that have helped foster the process of APEC economic integration and development. I think APEC 2006 is an excellent year for Viet Nam with so much hope and is a great opportunity for Viet Nam to popularize its image in the world and attract foreign investment into Viet Nam as the country also boosts its export to other countries.