APEC Senior Officials Vow to Strengthen Multilateral Trading System

Senior Officials of APEC members vowed Friday in Shenzhen to commit the organization to take the lead in strengthening the multilateral trading system and combating trade protectionism.

They noted that it is even more important for APEC to do so given the downward risk of the regional and global economic outlook, according to sources from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Senior officials from 21 APEC members, in this special economic zone of south China's Guangdong Province, discussed APEC's contribution to the launch of the New Round of WTO multilateral trade negotiations, in advance of the Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM II) of the 13th APEC Ministerial Meeting.

They recalled key agreements reached by the leaders last year at Brunei on APEC's contribution to the development of the multilateral trading system and the launch of a new round of WTO negotiations and expressed their full commitment and strong support to the multilateral trading system.

The officials further agreed that the fourth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC IV) to be held at Doha, Qatar in November represents an important opportunity to achieve that objective.

They recommended for the upcoming Meeting of the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) that given the uncertainties surrounding the prospects for MC IV, it is critical for APEC to send a clear and strong message on the matter.

Building on the consensus among APEC leaders that the New Round should be launched on the basis of a balanced and sufficiently broad-based agenda, senior officials also exchanged views on the possible elements that may be included in the New Round's agenda and some specific initiatives raised by member economies.

They said that the agenda must respond to the interests and concerns of all WTO members. On the basis of their discussions, the officials arrived at some preliminary recommendations to be submitted to ministers for their consideration at the MRT meeting.

The senior officials emphasized the importance of the APEC WTO-related capacity building programs as a unique, value-adding contribution to confidence building of developing member economies for the New Round.

They welcomed the progress made so far in approving and executing a number of projects, and called for quick action so the impact reaches a critical mass as soon as possible.

The officials called for renewed momentum towards realizing the Bogor Goals set by leaders of developed and developing economies in 2010 and 2020 respectively through enhanced efforts in strengthening the mechanism of Individual Action Plans.

The Senior Officials reiterated their strong support for China's early accession to the WTO with the rapid completion of the negotiation process in Geneva. They also voiced their support for the early accession to the WTO of other members applying for WTO membership.

(People’s Daily 06/02/2001)

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