Leaders urge progress in trade talks

By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-09-10 06:58

SYDNEY: The two-day gathering of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum closed Sunday with leaders from the 21 member economies focusing on global trade talks, climate change and building a sustainable future.

APEC leaders and representatives pose for a family photo on the final day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meeting at the Sydney Opera House September 9, 2007. [Reuters]
The leaders issued two separate statements, one an appeal for trading nations to push forward stalled multilateral trade talks and the other a call for action to tackle climate change.

Addressing the second session of the APEC meeting yesterday, President Hu Jintao said: "A fair, open, equitable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading regime is of vital importance to all countries, developing countries in particular, to invigorate their economies."

Expounding on China's stance on the World Trade Organization's Doha Round talks and regional economic integration, he said: "China is ready to work with other members to play a constructive role and move the Doha Round negotiations toward a comprehensive and balanced outcome at an early date."

Hu concluded his weeklong Australia visit yesterday and flew back to Beijing.

The final declaration focused on regional economic integration and detailed plans for enhanced cooperation on human security in areas ranging from terrorism to the consequences of natural disasters, and from epidemics to contaminated products.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, the host of this year's regional gathering, said the meeting was extremely productive and "has left APEC in great shape".

"We are particularly pleased with the progress made in the climate change declaration and the reaffirmation of the importance of trade liberalization, which, after all, was the core driving force behind APEC's establishment in the first place," he told reporters on the lawns of Sydney's Gothic-style Government House with other leaders standing by.

Howard said they were making "an urgent request to all countries involved in the Doha process to renew their efforts to achieve an outcome".

He noted that the Sydney Declaration on climate change and clean development was the most significant outcome.

"What this agreement represents is a proper recognition of the fact that different economies have different needs," he said.

The leaders also agreed to develop a more robust approach to strengthening food and consumer product safety standards and practices in the region, using scientific risk-based approaches and without creating unnecessary impediments to trade.

Additional capacity building in this area is a priority, said the final declaration.

The leaders agreed to strengthen and professionalize APEC as an institution and decided to revisit the issue of membership in 2010, which means India - the most likely nation to gain membership - will have to wait for another three years.

The APEC annual meeting will be held next year in Peru, followed by Singapore, Japan, the United States and Russia.

The gathering of leaders whose economies represent 56 per cent of the global gross domestic product and nearly half the world trade was the biggest meeting of leaders ever held in Australia.

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