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Doha Key New Zealand Priority at APEC - Goff

Published: Fri 17 Nov 2006 02:30 PM
Doha Key New Zealand Priority at APEC - Goff
Trade Minister Phil Goff today announced that during Ministerial discussions at the APEC summit in Ha Noi Vietnam, it was agreed that a draft statement on a Free Trade Agreement for the Asia-Pacific, as a long-term objective for the region, would be sent to APEC Leaders for consideration at their meeting on 18-19 November. A final APEC position can be expected to flow from that discussion.
“The key priority for New Zealand at APEC is to advance the Doha Development Agenda”, said Mr Goff.
“If we can successfully conclude Doha, then we will act effectively to remove trade barriers in a way that is consistent and across the board. The WTO can also do what no FTA or Regional Trade Agreement can do, that is, achieve the elimination of trade-distortng subsidies.
“At this meeting we should therefore make every effort to promote a successful outcome to the Round.
“But, independent of the Doha Development Agenda, we also need within APEC to be responsive to pressures within the region for greater regional integration.
“For that reason I believe we need to consider a Free Trade Agreement for the Asia-Pacific.
“I don’t underestimate the challenges of achieving such a Free Trade Agreement, nor do I believe that this can be accomplished in the near term.
“But nor should we underestimate the enormous advance that having a comprehensive, high-quality FTA with consistent trade rules across the region would represent.
“This region produces more that 60 percent of the world’s goods and services and has more than half the world’s trade.
“There are increasing forces at play within the region promoting greater integration. We can see that in the proliferation of bilateral FTAs and in the emergence of new regional fora such as the East Asia Summit.
“We have at APEC repeatedly been told by our APEC Business Advisory Council and by business more generally about their increasing concern regarding the proliferation of FTAs in the region.
“References to the spaghetti or noodle bowl effect of those FTAs raise concerns about a tangled and increasingly complex trading environment.
“Both business and ABAC have encouraged us as governments to find some mechanism to bring these strands together – noting that an APEC-wide FTA would be the best technical means to secure such convergence.
“APEC needs to respond to those requests and developments in regional architecture if it is to remain relevant and effective.
“I support a statement being made at the Leaders Meeting calling for studies that could lead to a Free Trade Agreement as a long term goal for APEC, and that the outcomes of those studies should be reported for consideration at the 2007 APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Australia.
“From a New Zealand perspective we would be happy, as would a number of other economies, to be more ambitious but accept this might be as far as we can go at this stage.
“I also support the efforts and the progress which has been made in the development of FTA model measures that demonstrate our responsiveness to business concerns and APEC’s commitment to high quality FTAs which are consistent with, or go beyond, the WTO.
ENDS

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