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Minister to travel to APEC trade ministers meeting

Minister to travel to APEC trade ministers meeting

The World Trade Organisation's Doha Development Round will be the focus of this weekend's APEC trade ministers meeting in Thailand, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton leaves on Saturday for the Asia Pacific Economic Forum trade ministers meeting. He will also visit Malaysia to hold discussions with counterparts, returning to New Zealand on June 7.

He said the next few months would be a crucial time in the WTO round and the APEC Trade Ministers' meeting will be an important opportunity for ministers to discuss progress in the negotiations and ways in which APEC can contribute.

"It is one of the key opportunities for Ministers to drive forward APEC's agenda and discuss the current outlook for trade growth in the region. Thailand's theme as this year's APEC host is titled "A world of differences: partnership for the future", with sub-themes focusing on cooperation for development, including acting on the development pledge from Doha.

"This meeting provides an important final opportunity for a significant group of trade ministers to agree on practical measures to support the Doha Round, which could help avoid an overloaded agenda at the WTO Ministers' meeting in Cancun in September. There will be a chance to reaffirm the importance of comprehensive trade agreements as a building block for achievement of the Bogor Goals. In relation to APEC's ongoing work programme, New Zealand is giving particular emphasis this year to strengthening APEC's trade facilitation and structural reform activities and advancing the region's counter-terrorism capacity in relation to securing trade and travel."

Mr Sutton said Malaysia played an important role in APEC, ASEAN, the Cairns Group and the WTO and it was important to visit Malaysian colleagues to further discuss bilateral and multilateral trade and agricultural policy issues.

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