Senior officials＇ draft statement highlights support for Doha agenda
BUSAN - Senior officials of 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies have tailored a draft joint statement to salvage stalled global trade talks.
A statement, discussed by officials from the Concluding Senior Officials＇ Meeting in Busan yesterday, highlights their support for the conclusion of the World Trade Organization＇ s Doha Development Agenda that was introduced in 2001.
"We all agree that the Hong Kong ministerial (meeting) will be a critical step in achieving this goal," the draft says. "Yet, we are all seriously concerned that the current impasse in the negotiations may lead to a potential failure of the round."
Senior officials of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies attend the Concluding Senior Officials` Meeting in Busan yesterday. The meeting was chaired by Korea`s APEC ambassador, Kim Jong-hoon (on screen). [Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald]
Liberalizing trade stands as a top priority in this year＇ s APEC agenda. The DDA has been stalled by issues of agricultural tariff reductions and subsidies and reducing barriers to free trade.
"We, therefore, urge all WTO members to make further, meaningful contributions to move the negotiations forward," the draft says. "Doing this will require economically and politically difficult decisions by all WTO members."
The annual regional forum opened Saturday with the launch of the two-day Concluding Senior Officials＇ Meeting in Busan. The working-level meeting, chaired by Korea＇ s APEC ambassador Kim Jong-hoon, is expected to put the final touches on outstanding issues facing the 21 member economies.
The final statement to be released today will include a strongly worded political statement regarding the WTO negotiations.
During a news briefing yesterday on the CSOM＇ s progress in finalizing the statement, Kim stressed the APEC gathering "may be the last chance to provide a meaningful impetus" to the Hong Kong talks.
He said the statement "will be short but strong, realistic but ambitious. It＇ s going to be a powerful statement."
Past APEC ministerial-level and summit meetings have generally accepted the positions made at the CSOM. The APEC forum could wield some influence in the WTO talks, as the 21 member economies make up 60 percent of the world＇ s gross domestic product and nearly half of global trade.
APEC leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush, Chinese premier Hu Jintao and Japa