APEC Hopes to Send Message to WTO Trade Talks

Japan will stick to a firmer stance to back up the consensus built up among member economies attending the ongoing APEC ministerial meetings for the launch of a new round of WTO talks next month, senior Japanese officials said.

"The ministers agreed it is necessary to send out a strong positive message for the launch of a new round of WTO talks at the Doha meeting, which is three weeks away from now," a high-profile government official with Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters yesterday.

The official, who asked not to be named, said "Japan is very supportive for a development of a new round of talks" as part of moves to jump-start the global economy, which is struggling currently with the danger of a possible recession.

Talking about the first day's APEC ministerial meeting which started yesterday, he said the focus of the gathering of all 21 member economies covered all the important issues such as advancing trade and investment, the multilateral trading system and trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, strategic plans on capacity building, ECOTECH cooperation and strengthening market functions.

"A general meeting of minds among the participants agreed that we should send a positive message to the rest of the world that a new round of WTO talks should be launched at the forthcoming WTO ministerial meeting scheduled at Doha, Qatar," Japanese trade minister Takeo Hiranuma was quoted by the official as saying.

He confirmed that almost all the ministers expressed their wish to see the new round inaugurated in the WTO ministerial meeting in Doha, the set venue for the long-awaited WTO ministerial meeting.

The official also said Japan did not believe that discussions of economic issues on the APEC gathering would be overshadowed by anti-terrorism issues, triggered by the terrorist outrages in the US last month.

"This is the biggest and most important gathering before the Doha meeting. We think it's very important for this APEC meeting to send out a strong stimulus message to safeguard the stability of the world economy,"said the official.

Other issues raised in the morning session were the promotion of the implementation of the strategic plan on capacity building, particularly in the area of the implementation of WTO rules.

Currently Japan and Canada are using their bilateral aid agencies to help economies to build up their capacities in a move to better understand the WTO rules.

"There is broad agreement among ministers for capacity building in developing economies to better equip them for negotiations," the official said.

In the area of ECOTECH, which is billed as another pillar of the APEC following trade and investment liberalization, "the economic and technological cooperation will be pursued in a balanced manner," Shigeo Uetake, senior vice-foreign minister of Japan was quoted by the official as saying.

(People's Daily 10/18/2001)

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