Make or Break for World Trade in Australia

By August 31, 2007Trade

Next week will be consequential for one world trade, as national leaders gather in Sydney, Australia for a meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation countries. (APEC’s home page.) From The Australian:

THE Bush administration is urging fellow APEC members to consider next week’s meeting in Sydney a make-or-break moment in the future of global trade talks. The US also wants to use the meeting to press its case for an APEC-wide regional free trade zone.

Speaking in Washington yesterday, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab denied the US was heading down a protectionist path, despite rising anti-trade talk in the Democrat-controlled Congress. And she warned that APEC represented the last ministerial and leaders summit before global trade talks, called the Doha Round, reconvened in Geneva next month.

“Therefore the leaders at APEC have the opportunity to help propel the talks forward,” Ms Schwab said. “It doesn’t guarantee success but the APEC members have the opportunity to build some traction.”

Defense and the Iraq war are also on the agenda of bilateral meetings between President Bush and Prime Minister Howard.

The White House held a briefing on APEC yesterday with Dennis Wilder, National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs, and Dan Price, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs. Price emphasized the Doha considerations:

[A] successful conclusion of the Doha Round is this administration’s highest multilateral trade priority, and it will be the top economic priority at APEC. The President is committed to a successful conclusion of an ambitious round that creates new trade flows, and he will use this opportunity to urge his counterparts, both in bilateral meetings and in group settings, likewise to be ambitious and to bring the round to a successful close.

The President understands that this is difficult. This is a difficult negotiation. It’s difficult for everyone, including the United States. But the administration is prepared to make the tough choices if others are likewise prepared to make those tough choices to create new trade flows.

That’s the right attitude, and for the sake of the U.S. economy and workers — and exports are really driving economic growth right now — we encourage the Administration to keep working at it. And Congress can do its part by renewing Permanent Trade Authority for negotiating Doha (NAM fact sheet).

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