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PM to attend APEC leaders’ meeting in Chile

15 November 2004 Media Statement

PM to attend APEC leaders’ meeting in Chile

Prime Minister Helen Clark leaves on Thursday for the annual APEC economic leaders’ summit in Santiago, Chile.

Representatives of APEC’s 21 member economies will meet on 20-21 November to discuss trade and investment developments, and security issues.

Helen Clark said key issues would include the ongoing WTO Doha Round, and how bilateral and sub-regional trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific can be better aligned with APEC’s goals of free and open trade in the region.

“Security issues will include regional co-operation to counter terrorism, trade security and control of infectious diseases, and leaders will also be assessing efforts to improve the regional business climate, including ways of fighting corruption,” Helen Clark said.

“Security and trade, investment, growth, and prosperity are all linked. We need to reach a careful balance between the costs to business and society of securing the movement of goods and people, and the costs of not doing so.”

Helen Clark said a strong and effective APEC is very important to New Zealand, as the region dominated our trade flows. APEC accounts for more than 70 per cent of New Zealand’s two-way trade.

“A successful WTO Round, especially on agricultural access, would deliver big gains for New Zealand and give even greater momentum to efforts to lift growth rates.

“But while a successful WTO Round is our top trade policy priority, New Zealand also has significant bilateral and regional initiatives underway and I will be looking to progress these while in Santiago.”

New Zealand is close to finalising a free trade agreement with Thailand and to launching talks with China.

Leaders will meet with business representatives of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) which has put forward proposals aimed at revitalising APEC’s trade agenda. ABAC is proposing a Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific.

“With so many APEC economies engaged in bilateral trade deals, the Asia-Pacific FTA idea is worthy of further consideration.”

Helen Clark will join Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi in addressing the annual meeting of the APEC CEO Summit on regional responses to global terrorism.

While in Santiago the Prime Minister will meet with leaders from Chile, China, Peru, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

The meeting with Chile’s President Ricardo Lagos is likely to consider progress towards a Closer Economic Partnership agreement between New Zealand, Chile and Singapore.

Helen Clark will be hosting the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, in Auckland on Wednesday while he is in transit to the APEC summit.

ENDS

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