SINGAPORE: Leaders and representatives of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are ready to exercise pragmatism and utilize all possible avenues to conclude the stalled Doha Round of world trade talks, said a joint declaration issued Sunday before the group's two-day summit ends.
Leaders expressed an urgency to "an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in 2010," calling it "the most effective means of dealing with protectionist pressures and delivering a global stimulus package to sustain and secure our recovery."
Leaders noted the importance of translating high-level political commitment into substantive progress in negotiations, vowing ready to "exercise pragmatism and all possible flexibility and utilize all possible avenues" to accelerate the negotiations.
Ministers are instructed to assess the situation no later than in early 2010, they said.
The Doha Round of trade talks was launched by the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its ministerial conference held in Doha, Qatar in 2001 with an aim to help poor nations hurdle barriers in global trade and prosper through the free flow of goods.
The initial plan is to wrap up the Doha Round in 2005 but failure of WTO's 153 members to reach a deal pushed back the schedule. Over the past four years, new deadlines were set and broken. World leaders lately vowed to wrap up the long-running Doha trade talks in 2010.
In fact, 80 percent of the talks have been concluded but agriculture remains as the last stumbling stone. Developing countries can not get the US and Europe to cut domestic farm subsidies as much as they want while the richer economies fail to persuade poorer countries to further open up their service markets, including banking and telecommunications, to international competitors.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy last month warned that if negotiations did not pick up, the 2010 deadline might be missed again.