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APEC Must Take Free Trade Lead: Business Leaders

MEDIA RELEASE
THURSDAY 2 OCTOBER

APEC MUST TAKE FREE TRADE LEAD: BUSINESS LEADERS

Never has the world trading system been in more urgent need of strong leadership than it is now - and APEC must step up to the challenge, say New Zealand representatives on the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Sir Dryden Spring, Wendy Pye and Peter Masfen.

"The collapse of the WTO summit meeting at Cancun last month will at best delay and at worst halt progress on vital trade reforms," they say.

However, if APEC economies lead by example in the removal of subsidies and tariffs - particularly in the crucial agricultural sector - they can send a strong message to the WTO, the ABAC New Zealand Chairman, Sir Dryden Spring, says. "APEC can do a lot to keep this vital WTO round moving."

Sir Dryden - who is chairman of the Asia 2000 Foundation and a former chairman of the Dairy Board - was speaking at the launch in Auckland today (2 October) of ABAC's annual report. He was joined at the launch by the other New Zealand representatives to ABAC, Montana Group chairman Peter Masfen and publisher Wendy Pye.

The report - which was written before the collapse at Cancun - urges APEC economy leaders to push ahead with trade reforms.

It stresses the importance of APEC's Bogor Goals - the commitment by member economies to achieve free and open trade and investment by 2020 (industrialised economies by 2010) - describing them as "entirely relevant and vital".

But the report says barriers including high tariffs on agricultural products - up to 659 percent on butter, for example - place the Bogor Goals in jeopardy.

ABAC identifies issues relating to international trade in agricultural products as among the most pressing facing the global economy.

"The problems affect all economies - large and small; developed and developing. Fair and equitable solutions will bring significant benefits to farmers and consumers throughout the world," the report says.

ABAC calls for APEC Leaders to:

… take the lead in strengthening the multilateral trading (WTO) system;

… quickly resolve agricultural trade policy issues, including high tariffs, domestic support and export subsidies;

… take resolute steps to achieve the APEC goal of reducing transaction costs by 5 percent by 2006;

… ensure bilateral trading arrangements help rather than hinder broader trade facilitation;

… work with the private sector on good corporate governance and transparency at all levels;

… ensure security measures do not hinder legitimate commerce;

… improve anti-dumping rules to prevent their misuse;

… make progress in the liberalisation of trade in services, multilateral investment rules and air transport, particularly cargo.

The report says there are significant uncertainties about the world economic outlook.

"This year APEC economies have witnessed military conflict, deflation, the SARS epidemic and currently face serious threats to regional instability in the Korean peninsula, the report says.

"Most recent global economic forecasts have been lowered. Although there is some expectation of improving economic growth during the second half of the year and projecting into 2004, downside risks remain."

The ABAC report will be formally presented to APEC Leaders at the APEC Leaders meeting in Bangkok later this month.

ABAC represents the business community in the 21 Asia-Pacific members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) framework and reports directly to APEC Leaders.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION - APEC

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence among Asia-Pacific economies. Begun as an informal dialogue group, APEC has since become the primary regional vehicle for promoting open trade and practical economic cooperation. Its goal is to advance Asia-Pacific economic dynamism and sense of community. APEC has 21 member economies.

Bogor Goals: the core goals of APEC, set down in Bogor, Indonesia, of free and open trade and investment in the APEC region by 2010 for industrialised economies and 2020 for developing economies.

For more information see: www.apecsec.org.sg

APEC BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL - ABAC

ABAC was established in 1995 by the APEC Economic Leaders to provide advice on business-related issues and a business perspective on specific areas of cooperation under consideration within APEC. Leaders of each economy appoint three members from the private sector. Collectively they represent the range of business sectors including small and medium enterprises.

ABAC members meet each year with the Economic Leaders at their annual Summit. A report is presented covering the work of the Council. This is conducted through Task Forces on Business Facilitation, Finance, Technology, and Small and Medium Enterprises.

New Zealand Members:

Sir Dryden Spring (Chairman)

Wendy Pye

Peter Masfen

Alternate Member & Senior Advisor : Ted Woodfield

For more information see www.abaconline.org

ABAC New Zealand Members 2003

Sir Dryden Spring D.Sc.

Sir Dryden is a former Chairman of the New Zealand Dairy Board - New Zealand's largest exporter and the largest international dairy marketing organisation in the world. He is Chairman of Fletcher Challenge Forests Ltd., WEL Energy Ltd., Ericsson Communications Ltd. (NZ), and Goodman Fielder New Zealand; Deputy Chairman of Goodman Fielder Limited, a Director of Nufarm Ltd., The National Bank of New Zealand Limited, Fletcher Building Ltd. and Maersk New Zealand Ltd.

He is Chairman of the Asia 2000 Foundation, a member of the International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade, a Trustee of Business & Parliament Trust, a Distinguished Fellow of the Academy of Massey Agriculture at Massey University, Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Directors in New Zealand (Inc) and a Life Member of Waikato Federated Farmers of NZ (Inc.) He is a former member of the Prime Minister's NZ Enterprise Council, a past Chairman of the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company Limited and was formerly Deputy Chairman, Ports of Auckland, and the Rural Bank, and a Director of AFFCO, and Chairman of the Asean New Zealand Combined Business Council.

Sir Dryden has had extensive experience in trade policy and trade negotiations and was a member of the APEC Eminent Persons Group that prepared the APEC "Vision" which was adopted by APEC Leaders in 1994.

Sir Dryden was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal, and in 1994 was made Knight Bachelor for his services to the dairy industry and to New Zealand. In 2000 he was awarded a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) degree by Massey University in 2000.

Peter Masfen

Mr Masfen is Chairman of Montana Group (NZ) Limited, Montana Wines Limited, Masfen Holdings Limited Group of companies and Property For Industry Limited. He is a Director of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Limited.

He is a Director of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, a Trustee of King's College Auckland and King's School Auckland.

Mr Masfen was a New Zealand rowing champion, and has won seven national titles. He was a member of the New Zealand Four at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and a member of the first New Zealand rowing crew to compete at the World Championships in Yugoslavia (1966).

Wendy Pye MBE

Mrs Pye is the Managing Director of the Wendy Pye group of companies.

The group is a privately owned world wide publishing company that exports to all countries within the APEC region.

Mrs Pye pioneered the development of an early literacy program and learning technologies, in particular in the United States, and works with many educational institutes and universities world wide to develop strategies for literacy through research. Her group of companies has pioneered work on internet delivery, and has become a major content producer for Telcos and for internet systems within the APEC region.

A Fellow of the Institute of Directors, Mrs Pye has worked extensively within the APEC region over the past 20 years to improve educational outcomes and the development of early literacy programmes. She has been an active member of many literacy development programmes that aim to eliminate poverty through education.

Wendy Pye co-chaired the ABAC Technology sub-committee and has been an active member of the SME committee being a keynote speaker at the ABAC conference in Hong Kong.

Her other passion is breeding horses, and she owns a large stable of race horses in New Zealand.


ENDS

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