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Negotiations urged at APEC CEO Summit to settle trade disputes
( 2003-10-21 10:46) (Xinhua)

Leaders, high-ranking officials, and business gurus from economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum Monday expressed their hope to strengthen negotiations and cooperation in the settlement of international trade disputes.

Delivering a speech on the second day of the APEC CEO Summit, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that "it is only through partnership between nations as well as between government and business that we can bring the fruits of free trade to all the people of the world."

Powell said that US President Bush is very committed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks and getting it back on track.

Powell mentioned that cooperative efforts have been made between the United States and The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand in fighting terrorism and advancing the economy.

The United States recently signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore and an agreement is now being negotiated between the United States and Thailand.

Powell said he believed that partnership between all APEC economies is becoming stronger and that the governments along with the private sector can most certainly first bring and then answer the hope of the citizens of all member economies as well as the world.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad pointed out at the same meeting that the WTO failed to make any achievement at the talks in Cancun, Mexico because major developed countries had tried to impose their interest on smaller nations by calling for unrestricted trade.

Mahathir said he still wanted the WTO to be the forum to deal with international trade issues, but the trade talks should take into consideration the concerns of developing members.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark said there has been discontent with the globalization process because some countries felt that they had not received equal benefit from free trade as others have. She said certain trade rules might need to be changed to ensure better distribution of benefit.

President Ricardo Lagos of Chile, the host for next year's APEC meetings, said countries needed to make sure that globalization benefits reached various sectors of their people, so no people would be left out from the process.

Earlier, Mexican President Vicente Fox said that FTAs should be developed in "bilateral, regional and multinational" arenas. Mexico itself has already signed 11 FTAs with a total of 32 economies around the globe including the United States.

As host of the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun last month, Fox expressed his disappointment about the impasse of the Doha Round of trade talks, and said that political will and generosity were necessary from all parties.

He said he hoped that a strong statement of commitment to resolving differences can come out from this year's APEC meetings so that the WTO can meet the deadline for concluding Doha Round talks.

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