Asia-Pac Business Leaders Support Liberalisation
APEC BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL (ABAC)
Sir Dryden Spring, Chairman, WEL Networks Ltd
Wendy Pye, Managing Director, Wendy Pye Ltd
Philip Lewin, Chief Executive Officer, Positively Wellington Business
Brian J Lynch, Director, NZ Institute of International Affairs (Alternate Member)
“Asia-Pacific Business Leaders Strong Support for Liberalising Regional Trade”
‘The 2005 Report from the Asia-Pacific Business Council (ABAC) has clear and firm recommendations for the Leaders of the APEC economies when they meet in Busan, Korea, later this month,” the Chair of ABAC New Zealand, Sir Dryden Spring, said today.
“Our ABAC discussions through the year have been held against the background of growing unease over the slow pace and potential collapse of the WTO Doha trade negotiations. We have stressed to heads of government that no issue requires more urgent attention from them,” Sir Dryden said.
“They must show concerted, resolute leadership if the WTO ministerial conference scheduled for Hong Kong in early December is not to end in failure. A tangible outcome from these negotiations is vital for poor and rich economies alike, not least our own”.
“From New Zealand’s standpoint an important feature of the 2005 ABAC Report is the unqualified support for major liberalization in agricultural products including big tariff cuts, a significant increase in market access, and the elimination of export subsidies within five years .There is also strong endorsement of steps to reduce barriers to trade in non-agricultural items, and for improved offers from WTO members to expand trade in services”.
“Leaders have been advised that if the Doha talks drag on, or worse still are derailed, they should expect the option of freeing up trade through sub-regional preferential agreements will be pursued even more aggressively”.
“Our apprehension about the faltering multilateral negotiations is matched by concern over the limited progress towards the APEC goals of free and open trade and investment. There has been useful reforms in some areas but not across the board. We’ve called on Leaders to launch bold new initiatives to achieve their key goals. One is the concept of a free trade area covering all of Asia and the Pacific which we’ve asked be given serious study”.
“Likewise, we’ve put the case for a fresh agenda of ambitious measures to facilitate the movement of business people, goods and investment”.
“ABAC New Zealand has actively promoted these new concepts”.
Sir Dryden said the ABAC 2005 Report also contained other substantial and timely recommendations that reflected regional business concerns in fields such as capacity building for small and medium-size enterprises, energy supply and usage, financial services reform, and issues to do with information and technology.