Trade ministers from the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation group have finished their meeting in Sapporo, Japan, with a statement pushing for a conclusion to the Doha Round of WTO negotiations, “Statement on Supporting the Multilateral Trading System and Resisting Protectionism.” Excerpt:
We, the APEC Ministers responsible for Trade, gathering for our XVI meeting in Sapporo, Japan, express our strong commitment to the multilateral trading system and our unwavering determination to bring the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) to a successful conclusion as soon as possible.
(Promoting the Doha Development Agenda)
- The strengthened multilateral trading system is a source of economic growth, development and stability. Bearing in mind that further reform and liberalization of trade policies will bolster economic recovery, we reaffirmed our resolve to seek an ambitious, balanced, and prompt conclusion to the DDA, consistent with its mandate, built on the progress achieved, including with regard to modalities.
- When the G20 finance ministers meet again in Toronto later this month, they’ll be asked to support the political momentum to speed up negotiations on the stalled Doha talks on global trade. That was the pledge made by a meeting of Asia Pacific trade ministers in Japan at the weekend. The ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum also agreed to outline a plan on possible ways to reach a regional free trade area.
Radio Australia has a good interview with Simon Creen, Australia’s trade minister, on the APEC meeting:
LAM: Minister you attended the weekend meeting, did you find the exercise useful?
CREAN: Very useful, useful from the point of view of momentum for Doha as you mentioned and remember that APEC has been a dynamic force for momentum in World Trade Organisation rounds before. It was instrumental in breakthroughs on the Uruguay Round, it is the strongest trade bloc if you like supportive of a Doha conclusion. It gave strong endorsement from the process that’s developed now to try and bring this round to a conclusion, what’s referred to as the horizontal process or the cocktail approach getting away from the traditional silos, the negotiating groups and looking to the what ifs are needed to bring all the moving parts together. Now obviously the other recognition of course is the fact that the G20 is meeting, the importance of our momentum linking into that G20 momentum that G20 meeting was very strongly argued, and that’s because G20 leaders want the Doha Round concluded. So the political will exists, what we really need to do is to get to the hard reality of bargaining and negotiating the give and take. The previous arrangements didn’t easily facilitate that. We hope that these new arrangements will, so it was important momentum in my view.
U.S. Trade Reprepresentative Ron Kirk was not at the APEC meeting, having been in a minor car accident last week. Get well quick!