Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology told Xinhua News Agency yesterday he hoped the 300 ministers from 149 economies due to attend the WTO's one-week 6th Ministerial Conference (MC6) can show flexibility and political commitment.
"Hong Kong will do its best to achieve tangible progress in the upcoming MC6 and most ministers have promised to play a more active role," said John Tsang, who will chair the conference.
The MC6, scheduled for December 13 to 18, is thought to be an important platform for advancing stagnated Doha Round negotiations, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2006.
Having returned from the WTO General Council Meeting in Geneva on Sunday, Tsang said most members considered the MC6 a key stage for the Doha Round of talks, and that he believed a bottom-up strategy for drawing-up a conference declaration was favorable.
Tsang said that in order to achieve progress regarding major sectors such as agriculture, non-agricultural products market access, rules and service, he had invited six other ministers as conference facilitators, five of whom are from developing countries.
The Doha Development Agenda, or DDA, aims to promote free trade and help underdeveloped countries to access global markets.
Tsang said one of the suggestions he would put forward during the conference will be to grant free tariff and market access to dozens of the world's most underdeveloped countries.
He said if the aim was reached, developing countries could enjoy an "Early Harvest," which would be a great encouragement to developing economies.
According to Tsang, Hong Kong was a small fishing village 50 years ago but became an international trade and financial center because of a policy of opening to the outside world, which he said was achieved with the backing of the motherland as well as the hard work of Hong Kong people.
He said the MC6 is the first ministerial WTO conference to be held in China and the largest ever international conference in Hong Kong since its return from British administration eight years ago.
He said he believed it will be an excellent opportunity to showcase the special administrative region's success and let the overseas guests see the great change that free trade has brought to it.
(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2005)