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PM and senior ministers to attend APEC

9 November 2005

PM and senior ministers to attend APEC

Prime Minister Helen Clark and three other ministers will travel to Busan, Korea, next week for the annual meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) members.

Helen Clark will be attending her sixth APEC leaders’ summit. The leaders of the 21 Asia-Pacific economies will meet in two informal retreat sessions on 18 and 19 November.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters arrives in Busan on 14 November for bilateral meetings with ministerial counterparts, before attending the APEC ministerial meeting on 15 and 16 November.

He will hold further bilateral meetings before departing on 17 November.

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton and Trade Minister Phil Goff will also be attending the ministerial meeting, and holding bilateral talks with APEC counterparts. Phil Goff, who is also Minister of Defence, will also have defence-related engagements while in Korea.

Helen Clark said APEC is a valuable forum for New Zealand because of its capacity to address issues of importance to the region.

“This year there will be heightened interest in the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation negotiations, as the APEC meeting falls a few weeks before the critical sixth WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong.

“APEC’s membership includes the world’s three largest economies and nearly 60 per cent of the world’s GDP, so its voice can make a difference to efforts to get the WTO multilateral trade talks back on track.

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

“I look forward to discussing with my counterparts APEC’s mid-term stocktake, an exercise intended to assess APEC’s progress towards the Bogor Goals of free trade and investment in the region.

“The summit will also address regional and bilateral trade agreements, and the risk posed by a possible avian influenza pandemic. Avian flu is a very important issue for New Zealand, and this meeting provides an opportunity to discuss within a regional context issues relating to improved surveillance, reporting, capacity building and assistance.

“Against the backdrop of escalating oil prices, APEC leaders are also expected to discuss energy security.

“Reliable and abundant energy supplies are the lifeblood of all modern economies,” Helen Clark said.

The Prime Minister will travel to Korea from Dublin, where on 17 November she will join the final presentation in New Zealand’s bid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The International Rugby Board is due to make its decision the same day.

Helen Clark will be overseas from 15-20 November.

ENDS

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