APEC Meetings Witness Fruitful Fourth Day

The high-profile Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings came into the fourth day Thursday with the conclusion of the Ministerial Meeting and the opening of the APEC CEO Summit.

At a joint press conference Thursday afternoon, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, who co-chaired the meeting, described the two-day event as "very successful."

Tang summarized the achievements as mainly in three aspects:

-- the meeting has further promoted the trade liberalization and facilitation process in the Asia-Pacific region;

-- it has strengthened economic and technical cooperation and cooperation in human capacity building so as to ensure that people in the region can share the benefits from globalization and the new economy; and

-- efforts have been made to create conditions for sustainable economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region through macroeconomic policy dialogue and cooperation.

In the new century, the forum will continue to play an important role in promoting economic development and prosperity in the region and help its member economies meet new challenges in face of globalization, he added.

A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting called for structural reform and sound domestic policies to facilitate economic growth in the region. The 18-page document also detailed APEC members' commitments to strengthening the multilateral trading system, promoting human capacity building and intended efforts in regard to e-APEC and other issues.

Foreign and trade ministers from APEC's 21 members showed confidence in the region's medium- and long-term growth potential despite the current global slowdown.

"Ministers affirmed their confidence in the medium- and long- term prospects of growth in the APEC region and agreed to strengthen cooperation to tackle the short-term economic difficulties," said the statement.

However, they admitted that some member economies were " affected considerably" by the slowdown in the United States, Japan and Europe since the end of last year and that the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. has further exacerbated the situation.

The ministers emphasized the need to achieve the Bogor goals and undertake structural reform and sound domestic policies to create a favorable macroeconomic environment for growth. Under the Bogor goals, developed and developing economies would achieve trade and investment liberalization by 2010 and 2020 respectively.

The ministers expressed their strong support for the launch of a new round of WTO negotiations in 2001.

"Given the global economic slowdown, ministers agreed on the critical importance and urgency of successfully launching the round at the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference to re-energize the global trading system," said the statement.

The ministers called for "strong political will and flexibility " from parties concerned in determining a balanced and " sufficiently broad-based" agenda to launch the new round.

They asked for "special and differential treatment" to the effective implementation of the concerns of developing economies.

They congratulated China on the successful conclusion of negotiations on its WTO entry and urged the completion of the accession procedure in the forthcoming WTO Ministerial conference.

The ministers vowed to avoid measures that would increase the levels of trade protectionism. They promised to maintain the APEC- wide moratorium on the imposition of custom duties on electronic transmissions until the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference and agreed to extend the moratorium until the fifth conference.

While stressing the importance of trade and investment liberalization, the ministers gave priority to human capacity building and economic and technical cooperation so that developing economies could share benefits of globalization and the knowledge- based new economy.

Trade liberalization and economic and technical cooperation are dubbed the "two wheels" of APEC, with developed members emphasizing the former and developing ones the latter.

"Ministers recognized that human capacity building is a vital means to meet the challenges of globalization and the new economy, and affirmed its importance as one of the core priorities in APEC, " said the statement.

Under the Human Capacity Building Promotion Program, major efforts will be made in 2001-2004 to train, free of charge, 1,500 IT professionals for APEC members, especially the developing members and to develop a virtual classroom to help APEC members popularize computer and Internet basics among their people, and to establish a cyber forum for APEC human capacity building.

The ministers also sanctioned a set of new initiatives to better prepare APEC economies for the new economy. The ministers endorsed an e-APEC strategy and urged members to take concrete and concerted actions to implement it "so as to maximize the benefits of the information and communications technology revolution, address the 'digital divide' and benefit from the opportunities presented by the emerging new economy."

They also reaffirmed their commitments to tripling Internet access by 2005 and allowing all groups within an economy to have Internet access individually or through community-based services by 2010.

The CEO Summit opened with the theme of "New Century, New Economy: Developing in the Globalizing World."

Addressing the summit, Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen called for cooperation among enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region in their competition with an aim to boost common development and embrace economic prosperity.

Qian said it is entirely possible for enterprises from different APEC economies to bring into play their respective advantages, boost inter-regional economic and technical cooperation, optimize the allocation of resources, and achieve an all-win outcome while seeking to maximize their profits.

This summit "will help the entrepreneurs from APEC economies to unite as one, pool their wisdom and efforts, and together face the grim challenge posed by the visible slowdown of world economic growth as well as the impact on world and regional economies resulting from the September 11 terrorist attacks."

It will help them to explore modalities for the growth and development of enterprises in the new situation, look for ways to rejuvenate the Asia-Pacific economy and contribute their due share to stabilizing the economic situation in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole, he added.

(Xinhua News Agency 10/19/2001)

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