The Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM II) of the 13th APEC Ministerial Meeting opened in Shenzhen, this special economic zone of south China's Guangdong Province Saturday morning.
During the two-day gathering, senior officials from 21 APEC member economies will discuss about trade and investment liberalization, economic and technical cooperation of APEC, capacity-building, new economy and regional macro-policy dialogue, in preparation for the 9th APEC Informal Leadership Meeting and the 13th Ministerial Meeting scheduled in Shanghai October.
The meeting is presided over by Wang Guangya, Chinese vice foreign minister and SOM Chair.
In his opening remarks, Wang observed that SOM II represents the mid-point on the road to Shanghai, stressing that building on efforts in the past five months, SOM is to push towards the goals and objectives set in SOM I and draw out a sketch for the outcomes of the leadership meeting.
The SOM Chair also called for substantive advancement of various initiatives on the following three areas: On sharing the benefits of globalization and the new economy, Wang asked senior officials to examine and provide guidance to the work of the e-APEC task force set up at SOM I.
An e-APEC blueprint is to be formulated, bridging the "Digital Divide" and preparing the region for any opportunities and challenges. Meanwhile, he also requested SOM to further explore a myriad of Economic and Technical Cooperation (Ecotech) initiatives, such as the Ecotech Action Agenda, Osaka Action Agenda (OAA) Part II review and biotechnology, in order to strengthen human capacity building efforts to ensure all people in the community can benefit from globalization and the new economy.
On advancing trade and investment, the SOM Chair stressed that SOM should demonstrate firm commitment to free trade, and strive to contribute positively to the early launching of the WTO New Round, and enhance capacity building of member economies related to the implementation of WTO agreements, exchange ideas on facilitating a balanced and sufficiently broad-based agenda.
Apart from that, he mentioned that SOM should build on APEC's own agenda, formulate the APEC Principles on Trade Facilitation, improve Individual Action Plans, and accomplish the task of OAA Part II review, etc.
On promoting sustainable growth, he emphasized that SOM would continue to promote the sound development of the market and enhance capacity building in the financial sector.
He also called for closer interaction with the Finance Ministers process on strengthening financial cooperation.
During the 2-day meeting, senior officials will also prepare for the APEC Trade Ministers Meeting to be held on June 6-7 in Shanghai on various issues ranging from trade and investment liberalization and facilitation to new economy and Ecotech.
On June 1, senior officials held a one-day retreat, at which they exchanged views on issues including how APEC can contribute to the early launching of a new-round of WTO negotiations.
Various committees and fora also discussed the specific work of APEC in their respective fields at the related meetings from May 26 to 31 in Shenzhen.
China plays host to all the four SOM meetings this year and other APEC-related conferences, in the run-up to the APEC Informal Leadership Meeting. The SOM I was held February in Beijing.
APEC, one of the key economic forums in the region, has been active in promoting trade and investment liberalization and technical cooperation since its founding in 1989.
It pools together 21 economies and accounts for over half of world GDP and trade.
(People’s Daily 06/02/2001)