APEC ministers pledge to overcome financial crisis
Updated: 2008-11-21 09:30

Representatives pose for a group photo during the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting in Lima, capital of Peru, on November 19, 2008. [Xinhua]

Foreign and trade ministers from the 21 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on Thursday called for joint efforts to overcome the ongoing global financial crisis and revive the Doha Round trade negotiations.

"APEC economies are committed to implementing all necessary measures to bolster the real economy and boost investment and consumption levels in the region," said a joint statement released by the ministers after a two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting in the Peruvian capital.

"Ensuring a rapid, coordinated and effective response to the current global financial crisis is the highest priority for APEC economies and will be the focus of attention" when APEC leaders meet on the weekend, said the statement.

The APEC ministers met in Peru during the "most difficult set of economic conditions" since APEC was created in 1989, it said.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belunde, who chaired the meeting, said the ministers have reaffirmed their opposition to trade and investment barriers.

The ministers have agreed to continue to "strengthen consumption level in the region and expand trade activities," he said.

"We've decided to continue supporting the multilateral trade system, including the World Trade Organization, and to support a conclusion to the Doha trade round," he said.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean said the APEC ministers not only have reached an consensus to push forward the Doha talks but also agreed on the direction to conclude it.

Crean called on the APEC leaders to make commitment based on the action plan adopted by the G-20 countries in Washington earlier this month, noting that nine of the APEC members participated in the Washington meeting.

"Commitement at various levels" are required to deal with the financial crisis, he said.

U.S. Trade Minister Susan Schwab said world leaders should learn from the Great Depression in the 1930s and prevent a "prolonged and deepening" crisis from taking place.

Schwab noted that the G-20 nations had made it clear that trade barriers and protectionism will not be an option during the crisis and it is vital to conclude the Doha talks as soon as possible.

The world economies should "use trade in a positive way" to avert the crisis, she said.

"We will do everything we can" to push forward the Doha talks, she added.

Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said APEC has yet to confront many challenges and the financial crisis is likely to top APEC's agenda next year when Singpore takes over as the chair.

The 20th APEC Ministerial Meeting started on Wednesday to make final preparations for the APEC

Leaders' Meeting this weekend.