Fri, Nov 17, 2006 - Page 2 News List

APEC ministers commit to resuming WTO talks

JOINT STATEMENT The 21 delegates reiterated their resolve to revive the WTO's Doha Round of global trade talks and listed an Asia-Pacific FTA as a long-term goal

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN HANOI

The 18th APEC two-day ministerial meeting concluded yesterday, with the 21 member economies issuing a joint statement reiterating the organization's resolve to resume WTO negotiations and facilitate the establishment of a Pacific Rim free trade pact.

Taiwanese delegates to the APEC also conveyed their strong support for these two key issues at the meeting.

The joint statement contained the group's commitment to strengthening the multilateral trading system, especially in regards to reviving the WTO's Doha Development Agenda (DDA), which has been suspended since July.

The establishment of an expanded free trade area, the so-called Free-Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), was also listed as a long-term goal.

The ministers also recommended in the statement that each APEC economic leader issue a stand-alone declaration reaffirming the organization's resolve in resuming the negotiation process in the collapsed Doha Round of global trade talks without further delay.

As for concrete plans to resume the DDA, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said that he would bring the consensus and joint statement back to Geneva and immediately convene a meeting on this issue.

Lamy added that he would call or visit member economies in hopes of facilitating the revival of global trade talks.

Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆), one of Taiwan's delegates to the APEC, said that Taiwan once again conveyed its full support for restarting the DDA and the establishment of free trade agreements, regional trade agreements and the FTAAP plan.

Chen said that the US promised in the meeting that it would donate US$5 million in two years to the APEC. This showed the US' commitment to strengthening the economic forum, which has often been criticized as a political platform rather than a forum for economic debate. Taiwan also donated US$1 million to the APEC this year.

Meanwhile, delegates from Taiwan and China did not have any interaction with each other before or during the meeting.

The APEC economic leaders' meeting is taking place today and tomorrow with some of the leaders starting to arrive yesterday. Morris Chang (張忠謀), Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) special envoy to APEC, is arriving today.

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