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International Internet Charging

1 June, 2000 Media Statement

INTERNATIONAL INTERNET CHARGING

The Acting Minister of Communications Trevor Mallard has welcomed the progress made by APEC Ministers on international internet charging arrangements. The APEC Ministers met in Cancun, Mexico last week.

Trevor Mallard said a reasonable compromise has been reached between the strongly held views of the US and Canada on one side, and the other APEC economies led by Singapore and Australia.

"At the heart of the issue is a claim of unfair international internet charging," he said.

"Many APEC economies believe those international charging arrangements are unfair because in relation to traffic exchanged with the US, the non-US party has to meet the costs of the international link in both directions.

“New Zealand’s position at the meeting was that, as a general economic principle, the costs of international internet circuits should be shared in proportion to the benefits to the parties.

“Having said that it is difficult to assess the benefits from internet traffic, and we need to be sure that gains from the benefits of any government interventions in commercial negotiations would exceed the costs.”

"The International Telecommunication Union (a UN body which has treaty-making powers) is considering recommendations on this matter at its World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly in September.

"The Cancun Declaration issued by APEC Ministers at the end of the Mexico meeting reaffirmed the importance of cost-sharing or other mutually beneficial arrangements for the APEC region as a whole.

“The principles adopted by Ministers, and the future work programme approved for the APEC Telecommunications Working Group, emphasise the importance of commercial negotiation and cost sharing”.

"It is too early to tell how the Declaration will impact on commercial negotiations, as APEC is not a treaty-making body, but this is still a valuable step in the right direction," Trevor Mallard said.

New Zealand will continue to participate in the APEC Telecommunications Working Group. The group will continue to discuss international developments relating to the internet and report back to the next ministerial meeting in two year’s time.

kerry.lamont@parliament.govt.nz

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