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APEC leaders agree to advance economies
Updated: 2004-11-23 00:44

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit has shown again its power as the primary economic forum for the Pacific Rim, with 21 top leaders from its member economies voicing strong support for the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and free trade.

APEC leaders applaud at the end of the reading of the declaration the annual APEC summit in Santiago on November 21, 2004. The leaders are (front row, L-R) New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Chinese President Hu Jintao, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, (back row (L-R) U.S. President George W. Bush, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Russian President Vladimir Putin. [Reuters]
In the declaration issued at the end of their annual meeting and entitled "One Community, Our Future.", the APEC leaders reaffirmed their commitment to advancing development through trade and investment liberalization, and enhancing human security to underpin growth and promote good governance and a knowledge-based society.

As leaders of economies that account for more than a third of the world's population and nearly 60 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), they sent a strong message about APEC's role in pushing world trade and the economy forward.

"The meeting is a big success not only for Chile, but also for all APEC members," said Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, whose country is the first South American nation to host an APEC event.

Reviewing the consensus reached, Lagos highlighted the APEC leaders' strong support for the WTO Doha negotiations and the determination to advance prosperity and sustainable growth in the region.

Leaders pledged to "work with a renewed sense of urgency to achieve a balanced overall outcome that will meet the high levels of ambition set for those negotiations," their declaration said.

During an annual dialogue with APEC leaders, the APEC Business Advisory Council, the business part of the forum, also told the top policy makers that a rapid and successful conclusion to the Doha negotiations is a priority for the regional economy.

APEC leaders, wearing traditional Chilean ponchos, have their official photograph taken at La Moneda Sunday, November 21, 2004 in Santiago, Chile.
APEC leaders, wearing traditional Chilean ponchos, have their official photograph taken at La Moneda Sunday, November 21, 2004 in Santiago, Chile. [Xinhua] 
"There is no other issue with such overarching importance to business, across the APEC region or globally, and we urged leaders to creatively and vigorously seek an early conclusion of the round," the council Chair Hernan Somerville said.

APEC leaders agreed to launch a new initiative for expanded co-operation to complement the achievement of free and open trade in the region.

"An overarching dimension of the initiative is capacity building so that all economies can implement and benefit from their work on trade liberalization and facilitation."

The leaders approved sets of counter-terrorism measures to improve commercial flight safety and to protect shipping and food stocks.

The declaration also vowed to shore up fights against corruption and to promote structural reform.

Economic forum

Set up in 1989 to heighten economic growth, co-operation, trade and investment in the Asian Pacific region, APEC is a trade-oriented economic club, although security issues have loomed large over the past two years.

Unlike the past two years when anti-terrorism overshadowed trade at the leaders' meeting, traditional major trade issues, such as the WTO negotiations, free trade agreements/regional trade arrangements and sustainable and equitable growth, were the dominant issues at the regional event.

"We reaffirmed our determination to advance the prosperity and sustainable growth of our economies and the complementary mission of ensuring the security of our people," the leaders' declaration said.

They also paid considerable attention to a variety of other topics, including corruption, structural reform and high oil prices.

When addressing the security issue, the declaration stressed the security of human beings, calling for new efforts to fight AIDS/HIV and to curb infectious diseases, such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), bird flu and tuberculosis.

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