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APEC leaders urge progress on trade talks


APEC leaders urge progress on trade talks


Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Korea on Friday and Saturday had been a valuable opportunity to address issues of current concern to the region.

“The key issue for leaders was the extremely fragile state of the WTO Doha Development Round. In the six years I have been going to APEC, I have not seen such determination and unity on a trade issue,” Helen Clark said.

“APEC leaders issued a strong statement emphasising that the success of the Round was of the utmost importance to the global economy, and regional economies. “APEC members knew they had to give a signal that they were ready to take the tough political decisions to make the Doha Round a success. They called on others to take to Hong Kong the same determination to take tough decisions.

“While time is running out, leaders agreed this was not the time to be lowering the level of ambition established earlier in the Round. We recognised that the recent United States offer on agriculture domestic support was serious, and had the potential to reinvigorate the Round.

“But that can only happen if a commensurate offer was forthcoming on agriculture market access from the European Union.”

In addition to a focus on the WTO Doha Round, the leaders discussed APEC’s progress since 1994 towards the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the region.

“APEC leaders welcomed the significant trade and investment liberalisation which has taken place since Bogor. This has helped APEC to out-perform the rest of the world in terms of growth and, in turn, this has provided a basis for improved social outcomes for millions of people.”

At the summit Helen Clark and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin announced an initiative to promote private sector development in APEC.

“This will help the 21 APEC members to simplify regulations governing businesses. Research by the World Bank shows that these factors affect the development of a vibrant private sector, and a country’s ability to grow and alleviate poverty,” Helen Clark said.

“The World Bank has labelled New Zealand No 1 in the world in this area, so we are well placed to help.”

New Zealand and Canada are planning to hold an APEC symposium on enabling private sector development in Montreal in May 2006.

Helen Clark said the APEC leaders had shown a strong commitment to preparing for a possible avian influenza pandemic.

“We have committed ourselves to lifting our surveillance efforts, exchanging information and implementing multi-sector pandemic plans to help contain, manage, and hopefully stamp out, this risk.

“Many APEC economies have already experienced bird flu. APEC has a programme of work on health, and it makes sense for us to work together on this risk to our region’s well-being.

“APEC’s political commitment to address the problem will help to promote public awareness and assist the work of other organisations such as the World Health Organisation.

The leaders also addressed the threat of terrorism in the APEC region.

“We recommitted ourselves to continuing APEC’s collective counter-terrorism actions, which began following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.

“There was agreement on a number of initiatives, such as assessing the vulnerability of airports to attacks by ground-to-air missiles, and improving total supply chain security.

“New Zealand will be giving its support to next year’s host, Viet Nam, to continue this work,” Helen Clark said.

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