INDEPENDENT NEWS

APEC ministerial meeting outcomes good for NZ

Published: Thu 17 Nov 2005 09:05 AM
Hon Phil Goff
Minister for Trade
Hon Jim Sutton
Minister for Trade Negotiations
17 November 2005
APEC ministerial meeting produces good outcomes for NZ
This year's APEC Ministerial meeting has produced some good outcomes for New Zealand, Trade Ministers Jim Sutton and Phil Goff said today.
Mr Sutton said APEC Ministers, meeting in Busan South Korea, held an intensive discussion on World Trade Organisation issues and have recommended that leaders should issue a strong and clear statement when they meet on 18-19 November.
"APEC leaders represent nearly half of the world's trade, 60 percent of world GDP, and one-third of the world's population. A strong statement by them will carry weight in persuading others of the need to get the Doha Development Agenda Round out of the present impasse.
"A failed Doha Round would undermine the whole multilateral trading system. We cannot afford for that to happen.
"APEC Ministers agreed unanimously that tough decisions were necessary to secure the Round.
"Agriculture is the key issue. Making progress on this will be central to the WTO Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong next month. APEC Ministers agreed that unblocking this will require improved market access offers, especially by the European Union.
Another major outcome from the meeting was the issuing of a 'Midterm Stocktake' of APEC's progress towards the Bogor Goals.
Mr Goff said APEC's average applied tariffs had reduced from 16.9% in 1989 to 5.5% in 2004. At the same time APEC achieved 28% per capita GDP growth, against 8% for non-APEC economies over the same period.
"This has had a positive flow-on into the welfare of people in the region and underlines the value of APEC's work."
New Zealand Ministers have supported APEC's efforts to develop an active workplan on Free Trade Agreements.
Mr Sutton said APEC was uniquely placed to help ensure that the growing number of FTAs in the region were of a high standard and that their provisions were as broadly similar as possible. That in turn will help reduce the problems for business of a proliferation of rules.
"APEC has agreed a set of 'model measures' for the Customs chapters of FTAs. While these are non-binding, they will be an important reference point for negotiations.
"APEC will be doing similar work on other FTA chapters over the next few years, which we will actively support."
APEC Ministers also agreed on a new initiative on intellectual property rights (IPR).
Mr Goff said APEC had promoted new measures to strengthen IPR protection in the region.
"Trade in illegal and counterfeit products represents around 7 percent of trade in goods amounting to about US$637 billion a year. Its effect is to damage capacity for research and innovation. In Busan, I gave New Zealand's support to an initiative by the US, Japan and Korea to improve IPR enforcement and protection of IPR on the internet."
While in Korea, Ministers held bilateral meetings with a range of counterparts, including Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and Indonesia's Trade Minister Mari Pangestu, and Sergio de Alba, Mexico's Economy Minister.
Mr Goff and Mr Sutton said that in addition to exchanges across the table on the APEC and WTO issues, they had informal discussions with US Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Portman including on New Zealand's continuing interest in seeing an FTA with the United States.
Mr Goff and Mr Sutton return to New Zealand at the end of the week.
ENDS

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