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APEC to play major role in shaping FTAAP

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-10-07 16:18

BALI -- The two-day APEC Ministerial Meeting ended with a joint statement that reaffirmed commitment to rules-based multilateral trading system with WTO as its "preeminent forum." This reaffirmation may well serve as a reminder of the contention over global trade rule setting.

Parallel to the APEC Ministerial Meeting and summit, members of the Trans- Pacific Partnership(TPP), notably among them the United States and Japan, held a similar ministerial meeting and summit.

Earlier media report predicted that TPP members may reach consensus in principle at the summit, but that prospect was overshadowed by the abrupt absence of U.S. President Barack Obama from the APEC summit.

While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to ease the worries by assuring that the summit will be held as scheduled, New Zealand has taken over the chairmanship from the United States.

TPP negotiation is considered a free trade negotiation with the highest threshold, covering 21 different areas, such as tariffs, trade facilitation, government procurement, intellectual property right protection and e-commerce.

Although the 12 TPP members also have APEC membership, major economies such as Indonesia, China, South Korea and Russia are not TPP members.

Indonesia, the 2013 APEC presidency, is understandably unhappy with TPP's move to put up a rival show on Bali Island. For a time, it allegedly wished that TPP ministerial meeting and summit would move elsewhere.

Roberto Azevedo, the newly appointed WTO director general, probably felt the same strain.

The organization's Ninth Ministerial Meeting (MC9) will be held in Bali, a move widely seen as a last-minute effort to save the Doha Round of trade talks.

Azevedo said in Bali on Saturday that in its endeavor to push talks on multilateral trading system, WTO needs the continued support of APEC members as they are a very important part of the WTO.

The joint statement issued at the end of APEC's Ministerial Meeting may come as a consolation for him.

The statement expressed APEC's hope that achievements would be made in the three key issues of trade facilitation, agriculture and development at MC9. It also urged parties of the WTO talks to show political will and flexibility to help narrow differences and ensure substantial progress in the talks.

Tang Guoqiang, chairman of China National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, noted that Indonesia, host of both APEC and MC9, has integrated the agendas of the two events as regards promoting regional economic integration.

This enabled multilateral trading system and regional economic cooperation help and complement each other.

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