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ABAC report sends a clear message: Minister

The report by Asia-Pacific business leaders sends a clear message, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton welcomed the publication of the report to Leaders of APEC economies issued yesterday by the APEC Business Advisory Group (ABAC).

"This high-level business group, which works closely with governments, has sent a clear message. The Asia-Pacific region needs to press ahead with liberalisation of trade and investment together with capacity building in order to deliver rising living standards in the face of the challenging international economic environment."

Mr Sutton said this message was more urgent, as a result of the tragic events in the United States earlier this month.

The report from ABAC highlighted the APEC Food System, which was endorsed by APEC Leaders in 1999. The Food System contains a package of recommendations for promoting trade in food products, developing rural social infrastructure, and disseminating technological advances in food production and processing.

The ABAC report makes a number of suggestions for moving ahead in implementing the recommendations.

Mr Sutton said an international network of "domestic champions" in food technology was set up earlier this year, in response to last year's ABAC recommendations. This network is chaired by Professor Paul Moughan of Massey University.

"The government will be looking to support the latest ABAC recommendations when the report is presented to Leaders in Shanghai next month."

This year's ABAC report also urged governments to act to head off the risk of financial contagion and revive business confidence. Measures recommended include the adoption of international financial standards and the deepening and diversification of banking systems.

Mr Sutton said the ABAC proposals for "small-business friendly" policies and improved services for smaller firms were of particular relevance to New Zealand.

"The government greatly appreciates the efforts made by our distinguished representatives on behalf of New Zealand," Mr Sutton said.

"Our people are highly respected by their peers, and their influence comes through clearly in the final report. We will continue to consult with the New Zealand members as we formulate New Zealand's response to the report."

The Prime Minister appoints the members of New Zealand's ABAC delegation. They are: Sir Dryden Spring, the leader; Peter Masfen; and Wendy Pye.

In the course of their meeting in Shanghai next month, the 21 APEC leaders will have a dialogue session with the members of ABAC from around the region.

ENDS

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