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APEC Leaders Agree to Re-energize Doha Negotiation


APEC Leaders Agree to Re-energize Doha Negotiations

White House fact sheet on the APEC talks in Bangkok

The 21 leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies have agreed to re-energize World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations by working off a proposed text developed at the failed Cancun ministers' meeting in September, a White House fact sheet says.

That amounts to a reversal for a number of the APEC members -- China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand -- who formed a group at the Cancun meeting with some other developing countries opposed to using the proposed text as a basis for negotiation. They especially wanted to substitute their own proposed language on agriculture.

The proposed Cancun text was assembled by Mexico's Luis Ernesto Derbez, chairman of the meeting, by synthesizing the work of five facilitators he appointed at the meeting to form working groups on sensitive issues, including agriculture.

Over the weeks since the Cancun meeting a number of Western Hemisphere countries had already defected from the group, called the G-21 and led by Brazil and India.

President Bush also welcomed the APEC Leaders' commitment to fight corruption and promote transparency.

Following is the text of the White House fact sheet on actions at the first day of the APEC leaders meeting:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Bangkok, Thailand)
October 20, 2003

FACT SHEET

U.S. Actions at the APEC Summit: Day One

"The United States ... supports free trade because a world that trades in freedom will grow in prosperity and in security. For developing nations, free trade tied to economic reform has helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. The growth of economic freedom and ownership in developing countries creates the habits of liberty and creates the pressure for democracy and political reform. Economic integration through trade can also foster political cooperation by promoting peace between nations. As free trade expands across the earth, the realm of human freedom expands with it."
-- President George W. Bush, September 3, 2003, the White House

Presidential Action

President Bush came to the APEC Leaders Meeting to encourage increased efforts to combat security threats and promote economic growth.

In a significant development today, the 21 APEC Leaders agreed to re-energize the Doha negotiations by working off the text developed at Cancun. President Bush also welcomed Leaders' commitment to fight corruption and promote transparency.

WTO and Free Trade: APEC Leaders agreed with President Bush that the Cancun World Trade Organization (WTO) talks were a missed opportunity for all to advance the Doha Development Agenda. The United States went to Cancun prepared to address difficult issues, and has tabled ambitious market access proposals in the three main areas of the Doha talks -- agriculture, goods, and services. Useful work was done in Cancun in developing a Chairman's negotiating text, but the meeting broke down without members endorsing the text. In a significant development today, the 21 APEC Leaders, with U.S. encouragement, agreed to work off of Chairman Derbez' text of September 13, 2003, as a basis for moving the global trade talks forward, recognizing that flexibility and political will from all will be needed.

The United States is prepared to move forward with the Doha negotiations, if all parties are ready to negotiate seriously on substance. At the same time, the United States will proceed with regional and bilateral free trade agreements. Yesterday, President Bush and Prime Minister Thaksin announced their intent to launch negotiations on a U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement. This is the latest in a series of U.S. market opening initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region, including:

-- Free trade with Canada and Mexico;

-- Recently signed free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore;

-- Ongoing free trade agreement negotiations with Australia;

-- The Enterprise for ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Initiative to encourage free flow of commerce and investment; and

-- Trade and Investment Framework Agreements with Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Promoting Transparency and Fighting Corruption: President Bush believes the Asia-Pacific region should be a leader in global efforts to combat corruption, which the World Bank has identified as the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development, cutting growth rates by 0.5 to 1 percent. He endorsed Leaders' agreement to implement by 2005 transparency standards in investment, intellectual property rights, and customs procedures, and to take action on trade facilitation. At U.S. urging, APEC Leaders also agreed to develop specific actions to combat corruption.


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