APEC ministers meet on free trade, human security
Updated: 2005-11-15 11:36
The foreign and trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) member economies met in South Korea's southeastern port city of Pusan on
Tuesday, focusing on issues of pushing forward global free trade talks,
anti-terrorism, measures against bird flu pandemic, and high oil prices.
During the two-day gathering, the APEC ministers will finalize the wording of
statements to be submitted to APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting scheduled on
November 18-19. The statements were prepared by APEC senior officials at their
two-day working-level meeting on November 12-13.
On trade liberalization, the APEC leaders are expected to announce a
statement promoting acceleration of the World Trade Organizations' Doha
The Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, first introduced at
the fourth WTO biannual ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar in 2001, have been
stalled due to deep differences between the developed and developing members on
market access, agriculture subsides and tariff structures. The push by APEC
leaders to keep the momentum going is seen as important because the region
represents nearly half of the world trade. A WTO ministerial meeting will be
held in Hong Kong next month.
"It's important to send a strong message to the WTO economies that the
current gridlock can't be tolerated any more," said Kim Jong-hoon, South Korea's
On human security issues, the Pacific Rim leaders will focus on anti-terror,
fighting corruption, measures against contagious diseases including bird flu,
protection from natural disasters and high oil prices.
The APEC ministerial meeting was chaired by Ban Ki-moon, South Korea's
minister of foreign affairs and trade. On the sidelines of the meeting, the
ministers will have a flurry of bilateral meetings.
APEC currently has 21 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China,
China's Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New
Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South
Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. The chairmanship rotates among
members, with South Korea holding the chair this year.