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USTR touts APEC overlaps with WTO Doha agenda


USTR Zoellick Sees APEC Advancing WTO Doha Agenda

USTR touts APEC overlaps with WTO Doha agenda

The Bangkok Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic ministers meeting is the first large meeting since the Cancun WTO session and the ministers had a very full and productive exchange about the Doha Development Agenda and how to move it forward, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said.

"People are coming to a recognition that Cancun was a disappointment, a missed opportunity," Zoellick said during a press briefing at the conclusion of the APEC ministerial meeting in Bangkok October 18. "But we are now at that stage where we need to move from hand wringing about what didn't happen to a 'hands on' sense of how we try to move the process forward. And the ministers all agree to recommend to their colleagues around the world and also to the leaders that one important step in getting the Doha Agenda back on track was that we agreed to work off the text that was developed in Cancun."

Zoellick cautioned that there is not universal agreement on all the elements of the text, "but if this is picked up by other countries around the world it gives us a much more solid basis to work from in the discussions that are going on in Geneva leading to a meeting by December 15th."

Another element of the Doha Agenda that caused the Cancun meeting to break up, Zoellick said, was the failure to reach agreement on the so-called Singapore issues -- trade facilitations, transparency in government procurement, competition and investment. "Well, the APEC countries have been working on trade facilitations for a number of years," he said. "So one of the things that we discussed was how we can not only continue that process of the options for saving money in trade facilitation, but how based on this experience we can work with some of the countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa that were uncertain about the trade facilitation agenda. This is a good way in which APEC has a direct overlap with the DOHA Agenda."

Zoellick said the ministers focused on three areas of APEC business:

-- trade facilitation where economies were to move from the general goal and look at options to developing detailed plans;

-- the transparency agenda -- promoting openness of systems and extending that to specific areas including intellectual property, investments, services, and competition; and to continue to work on the transparency in government procurement topic which overlaps with the WTO agenda; and

-- the digital economy which is obviously very important for all APEC economies in terms of remaining current with the demands of the change in technology.

On the bilateral front, Zoellick said he had good discussions with his counterparts about the U.S.-Australian free trade agreement, and possible free trade agreement with Thailand and Peru.

Following is a transcript of the press conference:

PRESS CONFERENCE
BY AMBASSADOR ROBERT B. ZOELLICK,
UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE

October 18, 2003
APEC Meetings, Bangkok, Thailand

Moderator: Ladies and Gentlemen, today we have Ambassador Robert Zoellick, the United States Trade Representative. He will give some opening remarks about the APEC meetings here and U.S. trade policy and then open it up to your questions. Again, when I call on you if you could identify yourself and your news organization we would appreciate it. Ambassador Zoellick?.

Ambassador Zoellick: Thank you Rich. I would like to start by thanking the people and government of Thailand for hosting us so courteously and thoughtfully. I had the opportunity to be in Thailand a little earlier this year at the Economic Ministers meeting at Khon Kaen so it is a pleasure to be back. And the arrangements have really just been extraordinary.

As I think most of you know the Thai Ministers will be doing a briefing within the next hour or so, and so of course they will probably discuss the Ministerial Declaration at fuller length and I understand the Declaration is just recently been issued. So I will just make a few general comments about some areas of particular interest and then I'll be happy to take your questions.

First, on the discussion yesterday among the Economic Ministers we had a very full exchange about the Doha Development Agenda, the WTO negotiation. And this is one of the first large meetings of ministers since the Cancun session and I think it was a very productive exchange. I think the sense that I draw out from many of the ministers in this meeting and in conversations I've had with others around the world is that people are coming to a recognition that Cancun was a disappointment, a missed opportunity. But we are now at that stage where we need to move from hand wringing about what didn't happen to a "hands on" sense of how we try to move the process forward. And the ministers all agree to recommend to their colleagues around the world and also to the leaders that one important step in getting the Doha Agenda back on track was that we agreed to work off the text that was developed in Cancun.

Now the reason I think this is significant is that it is one thing for people to feel disappointed about what didn't happen, but if you are going to get down to work you still have to work off something. And on the way in to Cancun there was a text that had been presented by the Chairman of the General Council, the Ambassador from Uruguay. But that was not accepted by all countries as a basis to work. And so much of the time that was spent at Cancun was spent in developing a text. And since the meeting broke up, there wasn't an agreement about that text.

Now this doesn't mean that everybody agrees to all the elements of it and the statements of the Ministers at this meeting are certainly without prejudice of their views to be able to have various positions on the text. We, the United States, are generally pleased with it. We have a few issues too. But if this is picked up by other countries around the world it gives us a much more solid basis to work from in the discussions that are going on in Geneva leading to a meeting by December 15th. And we discussed this with Dr. Supachai I had a meeting with him individually. We also had a session, a dinner last night with a number of the ministers. I think it provides a good basis of work.

The other element about the Doha Agenda is that as many of you may know one of the items that Cancun broke up over was the failure to reach agreement on the so-called Singapore issues. These are trade facilitations, transparency in government procurement, competition and investment. Well, the APEC countries have been working on trade facilitations for a number of years. And dating back to the Shanghai Accord in fact there is an agreement that we'd work together to try to reduce some 5 % of costs. So one of the things that we discussed was how we can not only continue that process of the options for saving money in trade facilitation but how based on this experience we can work with some of the countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa that were uncertain about the trade facilitation agenda. This is a good way in which APEC has a direct overlap with the DOHA Agenda.

Second, a word on some of the APEC specifics, and again it will the place of the Thai ministers to focus on this in greater detail but one of the elements that has characterized APEC from its origin in 1989 is that it is a group that has a more practical sense about economics and commerce and indeed, we interact with the business communities across the region to try to give us a sense of what is most important in terms of translating policy into commerce. And there were three areas where we focused our attention. One was this trade facilitation where we urged people to move from the general goal and look at options to developing detailed plans. I reported that our customs service in the process of upgrading our information and other procedures, in part as we upgrade security standards, have identified some $22.2 billion dollars of savings for the private sector and another $4.4 billion dollars for the U.S. government.

The second item was the transparency agenda and those of you that recall some of the criticisms of the economies in the region after the 1997 financial crisis know that one big issue was transparency -- openness of systems. It is also obviously very important in fighting corruption. And the leaders had in the past focused on some general principals to promote transparency but at this meeting we have also agreed to try to extend that to eight areas specific areas including intellectual property, investments, services, competition, and so forth. And to continue to work on the transparency in government procurement topic which again shows the overlap with the WTO agenda.

And the third item is the digital economy which is obviously very important for all our economies in terms of remaining current with the demands of the change in technology. And here again there is some very practical steps. There has been a big problem in much of the world about dealing with piracy of optical disks and APEC has now endorsed a series of best practices in terms of the regulations for optical disk production. And now we are taking it to the next step which is to have direction for future work in the best practices in the enforcement area. And then there is other work that was done in some specific topics like the auto sector.

Third, on the bilateral front I've had a large number of meetings and just to identify a couple of them, as many of you know, last year at APEC in Mexico, President Bush announced the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative which is a series of steps to try to deepen our economic and trade integration with the ASEAN countries for some, like Cambodia, it was a question of bringing them in to the WTO which we did at the Cancun meeting. And the most significant effort is to try to move towards free trade agreements. We now have free trade agreements with Singapore and Chile, as APEC countries, as well as Canada and Mexico. And I had a very good two hour or so discussion with Minister Mark Vaile of Australia about our U.S.-Australian free trade agreement. And our teams will be meeting in Australia next week for the next round of that negotiation. But this gave a chance for Minister Vaile and I and our chief negotiators and our deputies to look through the kind of overall structure of the negotiations, what need to be done.

And then I had a very good session with Minister Adisai of Thailand about the preparation for a possible free trade agreement with Thailand. We've been working with Thailand under our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement -- TIFA -- to try to pave the way to deal with intellectual property and customs and other issues and so I am at least encouraged with the prospects of that venture. But it is one that I know that President Bush will want to discuss with Prime Minister Thaksin when he comes. And then finally I also had a good conversation with my Peruvian colleague because we have been working with Peru along with others in the Free Trade Area of the Americas but also the possibility of a bilateral free trade agreement with Peru.

And the last thing I will mention because it is so important to what we do, I had a very good session with the U.S. ASEAN Business Council. And my colleague Josette Shiner just finished a good session with the U.S. Thai business council because these groups have been very supportive, they are the groups that actually did the study about the potential benefits and challenges of a U.S. free trade agreement with Thailand and they are doing it with some of the other ASEAN countries as well. So they've been very important partners in our overall effort.

So I will be happy to take questions.

Question: Chris Rugaber, BNA Publications. Given that there were some members of the G21 that are also in APEC do you see their endorsement of the Cancun text, or are there any other signs of movement on their part toward a more amenable position or are they stepping back from what at least some people characterize a more obstructionist position or are they becoming more "can do" and less "won't do." Is there any sign of that here?

Ambassador Zoellick: Well, one of the challenges of what I guess I will call the Brazil- India- Group because they no longer has 21 members as you know. It's lost Columbia, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and others are also considering their future role. Is that it had an inherent tension in its own members as I have pointed out one of the biggest tensions is that India has never been in the forefront of agricultural liberalization. So unlike some of the other countries that wanted, that took part in the Cairns Group, this group really had a hard time determining where its priorities were other than the reduction of the developed countries subsidies. And that is a fair point to make, but to be successful we going to have to open up markets particularly for the mid-level developing countries. The reason I am starting with that is that as you properly mentioned, you had a number of countries here that were members of that group. Some of them were at the meeting that the group had in Buenos Aires some where not. But Chile and Mexico came. And the best way I can highlight that is that Soledad Alvear, the minister from Chile, and I were the ones that started pushing this notion of trying to work of the Cancun text so we were working closely together.

I hope that coming from this group of 21 economies that this will create a basis for those countries as well as the European Union and others to join with us in trying to work off the Cancun text. And again, I hasten to add, there are certainly differences with that text. You know, our Korean and Japanese colleagues have concerns particularly that they noted but I think it is constructive that people will try to work off a common text because otherwise it is hard to translate discussions into real negotiating work. And so I think that is a positive sign. And I think for the other countries one will have to ask them over time.

Question: Just for a quick follow on. Thailand there was some question from Senator Grassley about whether or not the U.S. should move ahead so quickly with Thailand given its membership in the G21. Have you been convinced by some of [unintelligible] economists in saying that their membership was a strategic short term type of thing is that....

Ambassador Zoellick: The Thais have expressed, well, let me go back a step. I talked about this with Minister Adisei when we were in Cancun. And his position hasn't fundamentally changed since then but he has explained to both orally and in writing and I will let him explain it but what he has noted to me in a letter for example is that they expected that group to be of a temporary nature focused on the Cancun meeting. Their interests are actually very similar to ours in terms of opening up markets in agriculture. They focus heavily on elimination of export subsidies as we want to eliminate so I think we have a good cooperative basis going forward. And I feel that with comments that I have had from the minister as well as what they have written us that it gives me a good basis to work with the Congress if the President and the Prime Minister move ahead on the free trade agreement.

Question: [unintelligible] from the Australian newspaper. [unintelligible] give us some more details about your meeting yesterday with Minister Vaile. And what you're going to want [unintelligible] for the next round of talks with the Australians on this FTA, in particular, the difficult issue of agriculture.

Ambassador Zoellick: We had lamb...

Question: Australian or New Zealand?

Ambassador Zoellick: As a free trader I don't look for the label. I will say that in our most recent agricultural offer we moved lamb and other some 21% of our products now into category A, that will be eliminated first. What the minister and I talked about and I think this was very useful is that as all of you know we've got some sensitive agricultural issues. And part of them deal with the need to ensure we also have open access to Australia's agricultural market and that involves some procedures related to sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards and related topics. As you know this is not just an issue for the United States, a number of countries have brought a WTO action on Australia on this. But we are trying to work that out in a proper fashion.

But we have other issues dealing with foreign investment, dealing with cultural carve out, dealing with some of the questions of the pharmaceutical protection system, as well as a series of market access issues. And I think it allowed Minister Vaile and I, with our chief negotiators, to get a sense of, you know, we are committed to move forward this process as expeditiously as possible -- but to do that we kind of have to move a little bit in tandem. And I think it also allowed us to better understand the political sensitivities on both sides.

The United States and Australia are excellent partners not only in security terms but we have a very strong trading relationship. Minister Vaile and his team have worked so closely with us on global WTO issues and other topics. We are very good friends. And so it is a discussion where we are trying, as friends, to realize that this is a win-win venture and you have to deal with the sensitivities on both sides. So I outlined some of the things that I thought our most recent offer on agriculture would enable us to put forward, we talked about what would happen in October, the session that Steve Deady and Ralph Ives would be chairing, and we are committed to try to move that forward as quickly as possible. And as you know, President Bush will be also meeting in Australia, talking about this with the Prime Minister and these agreements are never easy but I am certainly struck by tenor and tone on both sides about the commitment to move it forward.

Question: [unintelligible] from The Nation. There have been some calls to accelerate the trade liberalization within APEC. Possibly moving the date for trade liberalization. Do you support the idea of quickening the pace of liberalization or adjusting the Bogor goals?

Ambassador Zoellick: I saw that in the Thai newspapers this morning. I forget whether it was The Nation or the Bangkok Post. Sorry. And that was not a topic that we discussed yesterday. From my reading of the stories, and you always have to be careful about what you read in the press, I think it was really focused on the developing countries moving from 2020 to 2015. Developed countries are already committed to 2010. As President Bush stated when we put forward the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative, the best way that we see to try to meet both of our goals is to move ahead with these Free Trade Agreements. The region is so diverse, and you have so many different countries, that I don't think this is going to happen in a big bang. And the question is to create models, and to show progress. I am delighted that in the past year we were able to do that with Singapore and Chile. We already have it obviously with Mexico and Canada. We are moving ahead with Australia. It would be a real delight for me if we can move forward with Thailand, another ASEAN partner.

Question: [unintelligible] from CNN. You mentioned in your earlier remarks about ......tackling piracy in intellectual property. Do you think [unintelligible] impression of the commitment perhaps by Asian countries in dealing...

Ambassador Zoellick: I had a very interesting discussion with the Secretary of Commerce and Trade of Hong Kong today, because Hong Kong has been one of the leaders in really turning around this market. John actually was the Customs Commissioner before and really knows this business and in fact I was trying to learn from him about ideas that I could share with the people I will be meeting in Beijing in the next couple of days about ways of trying to address this issue. I think the record is mixed. Obviously, it's an enormous problem, but as Hong Kong has demonstrated, it's a problem you can get on top of. Indeed, he was telling he will be giving a speech on Monday giving some of the information on how to do this at a conference I think Time Warner was involved with. And I asked to get an early copy of the speech, which I haven't read yet, otherwise I'd be able to answer your question better.

But what I've been encouraged by is -- take the case of Thailand. It's partly a question of getting the right legislation in place. But then it's also very much a question of enforcement and resources. So it's a question of the penalties and the follow through. What the Hong Kong experience has demonstrated is that, he put this in a very interesting way. He said the Hong Kong economy used to be based on frankly lower wage labor, then we moved to investment and now we're moving to innovation. And I think he mentioned some 86% of Hong Kong's economy is in the service industry. If you're going to go from investment to the world of innovation, you have to protect intellectual property. And so Hong Kong is demonstrating that. And I think that's important, because if we're going to be, in my experience of 20 years, is that if you're going to be effective, and working with countries you have to show how it's in their interest. It's not just penalties, but how it works to their benefit. And so this is a good case where you have some good models. And again this is where APEC, I think, the way APEC works, it's different from other groups -- is that by putting out these benchmarks, you're showing the ways in which you can start to address this issue. And then if we follow up on the enforcement experience, people in this region ultimately have to act in their own self-interest. But there are a lot of businesses that are encouraging to take these steps.

But it's not only a problem obviously in this region. Russia is a member of APEC. It's been a big problem in our dealings with Russia as well. And indeed, in the case of Ukraine, we've taken sanctions against countries that can't get on top of the issue. Because from the perspective of the United States, obviously given our knowledge economy, we're running a $500 billion dollar current account deficit. We need to get some of the returns from some of our investments in intellectual property. We lose billions and billions of dollars around the world for lack of protection of this. So people who want to keep the United States' markets open for the growth in this region, and I'm certainly one of those people who wants to do that, we have to have some fair play in intellectual property protection as well.

Intellectual property protection covers a lot of topics, I'll give you another one that is relevant, which I'll be talking about in China. Counterfeit. I have an advisory group, for the United States Trade Representative, and this trade group presented to me a very interesting report on counterfeiting. Well counterfeiting is not only an economic issue, it's a health and safety issue. We have examples of shatterproof glass that is, counterfeit product is not shatterproof. So if you're driving a car that's made with this, that's a counterfeit operation, you've got a safety problem. And that's true for pharmaceuticals and other issues as well.

So part of the bigger challenge, which we and the business community and countries here are addressing, is to show why this matters to people and why it's important for their own innovation and safety to improve intellectual property.

Question: [unintelligible] from the South China Morning Post out of Hong Kong. Now that you've [unintelligible] talk a little bit China, coming in to this APEC meeting there has been a lot of speculation about the U.S., that it's going to be raising, putting a lot of pressure on China regarding the renminbi -- is that going to be a major priority for you, and what are some other issues, bilateral, with China.

Ambassador Zoellick: Well just so you have the context of this, one of my deputies, Ambassador Shiner was just in China having a number of meetings before a visit to Sri Lanka. I leave tomorrow to first visit Shenyang, in Manchuria, and then on to Beijing. And just as a small observation, the last time I was in China, I visited Chongqing. And I find it very useful to not only go to the Beijing, Shanghai, Guongdong areas, but see some of the areas the Chinese government see as challenges for development. And we have American businesses there -- I visited a Ford plant in Chongqing, which recently just had a very large investment.

But I think it's no secret to people that the issue of the China trade imbalance has become a very hot one in the United States. And as I recall, some 25% of China's exports now flow to the United States. And as all of you know who operate in this region, that's very important for the growth in south east Asia as well. Because whether it be commodities like rubber from Indonesia or Thailand or whether it be component parts, China is buying from other countries and then often selling the assembled products to the United States. So we want to keep American markets open, but as I said, we have a $500 billion dollar current account deficit globally, over $100 billion with China. And so the most critical part is we need to have a fair, a two way street. I'm one of the people that wants to keep the U.S. market open, I think a lot of this provides good quality goods for American consumers at lower prices. But to do so, I need to be certain that American farm products can get in, in a predictable fashion without people inventing reasons to stop them. I need to be sure that American intellectual property is protected. I need to be sure that tax rules aren't used in an unfair way against, whether it's American fertilizer or other products. I need to be sure that American financial service industries, which by the way are serving the Chinese people too, can operate without branching or other unfair requirements.

But a key issue is that China is obviously had a major task in terms of implementation of WTO accession. I know how complicated this was. I was the last of the series of Trade Representatives that completed the China's and Taiwan's accession. And I think one should not underestimate how hard that has been for China as its moved to a market economy, as reports of American business show, it's been a mixed record, a lot of changes, some things haven't happened.

But part of my message will be, it's very important for China to follow through on the obligations. And let me mention one that is coming up soon. Many people may not be aware that if you sell goods in China, you can't just bring them into the country and sell them in a normal trade and distribution network as you can in the United States. So China has made commitments to open up the trading rights and distribution system in China, on a progressive fashion, to be completely opened up by December 11th of 2004, and by December 11 of this year, we're supposed to allow majority ownership of joint ventures.

So part of the message will be, it's important that China follow through on those obligations. Now on the currency topic which you mentioned, my colleague Secretary Snow has talked about this. I think there's some aspects that are obviously in our mutual interest. What's driven some of the attention to the exchange rate is the fact that China has been having very large increase in dollar reserves. Well why is that happening? Well it's happening because to maintain the currency peg they have to spend renminbi to buy dollars.

Well that's how they're buying the dollars. But under country's monetary policy, that means they're expanding the money supply more rapidly. Well, I used to be in the housing finance business -- that runs some risks of actually bubbles. That draws the risk of overheating. So there are discussions that I've read within the Chinese financial press about whether that is always in China's interest.

So again, part of my feeling is that China's integration into the world economy has big opportunities, but big challenges. And that shouldn't be a surprise. It's 1.3 billion people, it's happened in a relatively quick space of time. On my visits to China I've emphasized the great respect that I have for the Chinese in terms of what they've accomplished. I first visited China in 1980 when I lived in Hong Kong, and so I've seen the changes in China. Just in the past week, we've seen China put a person into space. Tremendous transformation. But in part, because of its size and influence, China, in some ways, like the United States, has a larger responsibility. It's not just a question for the United States but it's a question for China effect with others. I hope to try to talk about with Chinese officials is building the foundation of mutual interest, so that we can show how this is an overall benefit. And I've mentioned some of the areas, but there are others we need to work with our Chinese colleagues on trying to improve. Because what the President and my colleagues in the cabinet and I need to do with the Congress and the American public is to show that it's fair and a two way street.

Moderator: I think we have time for two more quick questions, and quick follow up.

Question: So does that mean that if they give concessions in other things they may not [unintelligible].

Ambassador Zoellick: Well, I'm not the Treasury Secretary. And I imagine that President Bush will be talking about this with President Hu. Just to give you a slight piece of history on this -- when I was interviewed for this job, President Bush asked me what is the Trade Representative's view on exchange rates and currency. And I had an advantage because I used to work at the Treasury Department in the 80's under Secretary Baker, and I knew that the Trade Representative doesn't have a view on exchange rates and currency, that's for the President and the Treasury Secretary. And so that's my answer to your question.

Question: John [unintelligible] from the Guardian. Not being from an APEC country, I wonder, and mentioned about the diversity of economies, the non-binding nature, everyone fighting for their own interest, for the rest of the world, why should we really be paying attention to APEC, and what's it's real relevance?

Ambassador Zoellick: Well, APEC started in 1989 with a very important concept, and I was there, in Canberra. At the end of the Cold War, people were interested in how institutional ties would change. And here you have a region, that spans the Asia Pacific, and I'm sorry, being from the Guardian, you had some historical ties here, but you gave them up. And it's an area, a region of great diversity, of great energy and innovation. The North American market remains a great source of dynamism, creativity, between 25 and 30 percent of the world's GDP. You've got incredible growth in China. You have countries in south east Asia that represent not only large populations but very important innovation. You know, as small as Brunei and as big as China. And so if a group that diverse can come together with a point of view -- it's quite significant. Now the nature of this group from its very start, and this is partly ASEAN's wish -- is that it's not a trading bloc and it's not to try to separate, it's what people have referred to as an open regionalism. All of us are part of this region but we're part of the global economy as well. And that's a very important point to emphasize. Well just take my day. I just came from Central America, and Montreal, and next week I'm going off to Europe. The United States is not just an Asian Pacific economy, it's a global economy. But so how can this region can send a message, in practical terms and in strategic terms for the world as a whole? Well one thing I mentioned, we're showing how trade facilitation has practical benefits, and maybe we can show that to some of the African countries so they'll support it in the WTO. We're showing things like how to deal with optical disk piracy, those are very concrete, practical things. And one of the things that's always distinguished APEC as a post-Cold War grouping is that it's had much closer ties with the business community...[6 second break in tape]

As I said, frankly I didn't expect that this group would agree and send a message that we should all work off the Cancun text. That's a very good sign. So if you report in that little part of the world called Europe, about the need to work off the Cancun text, that would be great. And so, I'll be seeing Commissioner Lamy I think on November 3, I'll be talking about this with him, with our Brazilian colleague who I'm going to be seeing shortly.

So there are past examples of this. You know, in closing the Uruguay Round one of the important dimensions was the completion of NAFTA and the first APEC summit. This prodded, as some Europeans have said, the recognition that Europe had to move from liberalization at the time. That was a significant step. So when China came in, when China hosted the APEC meeting in 2001 in Shanghai, it was quite interesting. And to give my colleague Commissioner Lamy credit, he was one of the few trade ministers at the time that was really pushing for the Doha launch. A lot of my Asian colleagues were more reluctant. But China, even though it wasn't a WTO member, was very active at the APEC meeting saying we should launch this round.

So it's a combination of, if you get these 21 economies, as varied as they are -- Latin America, North America, Asia-Pacific, North Asia, South East Asia, you know all moving in a direction -- that carries some weight with it, and then there's the very practical sense of the things we are doing.

Question: Simon Lewis from the New Zealand Press Association, can I just get some clarification on the comment on the Bogor goals...

Ambassador Zoellick: I have the cufflinks from the America's Cup New Zealand. How did you do by the way?

Question: The way forward is with model FTAs, and yet you said [unintelligible] big bang, where does that [tape change].

Ambassador Zoellick: I, like others, were disappointed. I think it was a missed opportunity. Speaking for the United States, we not only invested a lot to launch the round, but we came forward with very aggressive proposals in agriculture and goods in particular. In the month of August we worked through this very difficult issue of intellectual property and access to medicines for poor countries. And so I was disappointed that some countries approached the meeting in a more confrontational style, and some engaged in what I called the politics of protest. What I suspected is starting to happen, which is that a number of countries are saying "oh my gosh, we actually crashed the thing." And so, this will take time. Countries will need to come to their own conclusion about their interest and how they want to pursue this.

What we can and I think, should do as a leading economy in the world, is to make clear our position. Because some countries take a different approach to this, but I believe with 148 economies in the WTO, hiding the ball will just lead to confusion. So I've emphasized transparency in our positions, and I've repeated -- unlike Japan, Korea, the European Union, we focused on market access -- agriculture, goods and services. I mean, trade facilitation is very constructive too, but let's keep our eye on what really matters for trade and growth. And we proposed some very ambitious proposals. And then what I've tried to say over the last couple of weeks, which is why you can see why I'm pleased by what came out of here, was to say, ok now people are disappointed, but what are they going to do about it? We've got to get to work in a practical way. And I tried to signal through some pieces I wrote to say "speaking for the United States, I'm willing to work off either the Cancun text, or the Chairman of the General Council's text. How about you? What are you willing to work off of?" So it's one thing to say you'd like to do something, but where do you stand? We now have 21 economies here that say we agree with you, let's work off the Cancun text.

So, I think the Chairman of the General Council, Carlos Perez de Castillo, from Uruguay, and the Director General are doing consultations. They will continue those, I hope this gives them a little bit of momentum to work with. And I hope that in the meeting in December, at the Ambassadorial level that they could take this and maybe we could get all countries to work off the Cancun text. Now then from there, I would see a couple of things. One is this knotty issue of the Singapore issues. It's going to have to take some additional work. We've been more of a facilitator in that -- we really don't have a dog in that fight. We've tried to bridge parts. But even at this meeting there was a good discussion among key players about -- well, do you really need all four, and could you start with some, and study others. We need to hear where the European Union stands on that. The European Union, understandably, I've been in touch with Commissioner Lamy, is doing his own consultation on that. So if that one starts to move into place, what's next? Well what's next would be -- let's start to work on those texts, in agriculture and goods. And then in the services area move forward some more offers.

So I can see a pathway to move forward, and we're trying to do what we can to expedite that. But we recognize, this is going to take each country to make it's assessment in the aftermath of Cancun. You know, a little bit of bruises, hurt feelings, people have to get beyond that and get to work. We stand ready, and I'm glad we're with 20 other economies that stand with us too.

Question: On a scale of 10, how would you rate...

Ambassador Zoellick: You know, I never answer those questions, I'm bad at the number ten question.

Moderator: Thank you.


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