To clinch global liberalization deal:
Doha round, global slump top APEC talks
SINGAPOR: APEC Trade Ministers began meeting here Tuesday to discuss
ways of clinching a global liberalization deal in 2010 with signs that
major recession-hit economies may be on the mend.
Officials said the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting
is the largest gathering of trade ministers so far in 2009 and follows a
new consensus among key players to wrap up the Doha round of world trade
talks next year.
"One of the advantages of the APEC meetings has always been the
opportunity for us to meet informally within the APEC group and then
also informally bilaterally and in small groups," said Indonesian Trade
Minister Mari Pangestu.
"So we will be using a lot of opportunities, not just inside the
meeting but outside of the meetings, to be able to discuss and identify
the specific issues," she told AFP in an interview Monday.
The eight-year-old Doha round of World Trade Organization (WTO)
negotiations aimed at tearing down trade barriers is among the items
that will be discussed during the APEC meeting, the Indonesian minister
The meeting in Singapore comes just after a Group of Eight summit in
L'Aquila, Italy where leaders of the world's most powerful nations and
emerging economies agreed to wrap up the Doha talks by 2010. "That's why
APEC coming along two weeks after the L'Aquila (summit) is important to
push the process along," said Pangestu.
Singapore will host the next APEC summit in November.
Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean, who was attending the two-day
ministerial meeting, said he hoped the Singapore talks would lend
further momentum to the stop-start Doha process.
"I strongly believe a conclusion to the Doha round is the best means
for keeping the forces of protectionism in check and for contributing to
the emerging economic recovery we are now seeing in our region," he told
the Australian business community in Singapore on Monday.
WTO head Pascal Lamy, who will also participate in the Singapore
meeting, said last month the Doha talks were back on track. Pangestu
said 2010 was a "pretty realistic" target after eight years of
discussions so far.
The Doha round was launched in the Qatari capital in late 2001 but
has repeatedly foundered, notably over disputes between rich and
developing nations on agricultural and industrial products.