APEC ministers back G20 trade push

November 20, 2008
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, LIMA, November 20 – APEC leaders meeting in Peru are to push to revive moribund global trade talks by the end of the year as a way of combating the world economic crisis, officials here have said.

The Doha round of trade negotiations, which hit a dead end in July, should be brought back in line with the recommendations of the G20 summit held in Washington last Saturday, foreign and trade ministers from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum agreed.

"The time has come for the Doha round to be brought to a conclusion, and that I think is the main topic of conversation for APEC this week," Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told reporters after a meeting with his APEC counterparts.

APEC leaders meeting on Saturday and Sunday will likely "direct trade ministers to meet before the end of the year in an effort to bring the Doha round to a successful conclusion," he said.

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said the ministers\’ meeting was "devoted to these discussions about how do we get this elusive breakthrough on Doha."

"This is APEC\’s opportunity to put its stamp on and build on the G20 leaders\’ declaration," Schwab said.

Japanese Trade Minister Toshihiro Nikai told reporters: "We are all united and heading toward the same direction."

On World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, "we renewed our determination to take action in line with the strong message sent at the (G20) summit," Nikai said.

Leaders from the Group of 20 major developed and developing powers committed at the emergency summit in Washington to counter the financial crisis by striving to "reach agreement this year" on the trade talks.

Several nations, including the United States, Japan, China and Russia, are members of both the G20 — which includes the world\’s biggest industrialized and developing nations — and APEC.

In Washington, US President George W. Bush\’s advisor for international economic affairs, Dan Price, said Bush would be backing the G20 response to the international economic meltdown at the APEC summit.

"I will say that certainly one of our priorities … would seek to broaden the support for that declaration by having it endorsed by the other members of APEC," he said.

The Doha-round talks failed at the WTO headquarters in Geneva because of a disagreement between the United States and India over cotton.

Officials have since described hat obstacles on narrow issues as that, given the subsequent financial crisis, could be overcome to allow a global trade deal to be reached.

"The urgent need for (a deal) is even more compelling now," Smith said.

The APEC gathering was also showcasing the rising political might of the world\’s big emerging economies, which sat alongside the wealthy nations at the G20 summit.

Chinese President Hu Jintao\’s arrival Wednesday ahead of the summit generated intense media coverage in Peru, with live television broadcasting his escorted trip from the airport to the center of Lima to see Peruvian President Alan Garcia.

Hu was on the final leg of a Latin American tour that included Costa Rica and Cuba.

With so many ministers and officials converging on Lima, security was heavy.

Some 39,000 police have been deployed in Lima and another 60,000 officers were on full alert across the rest of the country, which is still haunted by a bloody Maoist insurrection in the 1980s and 1990s.

The presence of Bush — on his last scheduled overseas trip as US president — was expected to stir protests, with Peru\’s main labor union blaming him for the global financial turmoil and promising a demonstration on Friday.

APEC comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The bloc, created in 1989, accounts for 60 percent of the planet\’s economic output and nearly half of its trade.

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