APEC leaders want progress on world trade talks

APEC leaders want progress on world trade talks

Sydney: Leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies will push for the current round of global trade talks to enter their final phase by the end of the year, according to a draft statement prepared for their annual summit.

Achieving progress in the stalled negotiations has “never been more urgent," says the statement, which leaders gathered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum are expected to endorse during the summit which is being held on 8-9 September in Sydney.

The leaders will call for “ambitious" results on resolving differences over cutting agricultural subsidies and industrial tariffs, key areas of dispute that stalled Doha round of global trade talks amid bickering between rich and poor nations.

“We insist that consensus will only be possible on the basis of an ambitious balanced result that delivers substantial real market access for agricultural and industrial goods and for services, as well as real reductions in trade distorting agricultural subsidies," the draft statement says.

Trade negotiators are scheduled to meet in Geneva to discuss two new proposals to bridge differences on matters among WTO’s 151 members.

India and Brazil want US and EU to make greater cuts in farm subsidies, while the latter insist that developing nations make bigger reductions in tariffs on industrial goods.

Doha round, begun in 2001, aims to add billions of dollars to world economy and help poorer countries develop through new trade flows.

APEC leaders, including US President George W Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao, will back Doha round as the best way to make the global trade system more fair. Leaders will endorse the view that “there has never been a more urgent need to make progress" on global trade talks.

“We pledge to push hard for the progress necessary to ensure the Doha round negotiations enter their final phase this year," it said.

David Spencer, who is Australia’s ambassador to APEC and chaired the senior officials’ meetings in Sydney, said there was unanimous support among all APEC members about the importance of the Doha negotiations.

Senior APEC officials concluded their talks on the draft statement which will be handed to the forum’s leaders.