Past Lessons Show Worth of Trade Talks

The foreign minister of New Zealand said he was confident the November ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) would be able to start a new round of trade liberalization talks.

"People are now more confident that a round will develop out of Doha, having learned lessons from mistakes in the past at Seattle. We now have a more conducive environment," Philip Bruce Goff told APEC Today.

There is a great readiness on the part of different economies and different groups of economies to compromise and move the process forward, he said.

The foreign minister said he did not see the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington as being able to "dilute the readiness and determination of the world to come together and achieve common objectives."

On the contrary, the outrages have served to unite diverse countries and regions and led governments to view things from the standpoint of the wider community, he said.

"Some good has come from the evil in terms of the way countries see each other and their relations with each other," said Goff.

He said the new administration of the United States is expected to be less unilateral and more inclusive in its relations with other countries than its predecessors after the terrorist attacks.

But Goff warned the attacks have the potential to hurt the already gloomy world economic outlook and called on the world to cooperate instead of setting up trade barriers to get through hard times.

Looking inwardly on themselves and putting up barriers against other economies would deepen and worsen the recession. The way to combat recession and the slowdown in growth is to remove obstacles to growth, he said. Trade barriers are one of them.

The foreign minister said he was optimistic that APEC would build a strong momentum when initiating a new WTO round and issuing a strong statement on anti-terrorism as well as economic progress and cooperation.

(China Daily 10/17/2001)

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