APEC ministers start talks on trade
Updated: 2006-11-15 14:42
Hanoi - Cabinet ministers from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum
began talks on Wednesday seeking ways to revive comatose global trade talks and
get their own Pacific rim free trade area off the drawing board.
An armed policeman stands guard outside the venue of the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Hanoi November 15,
2006. Cabinet ministers from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum
began talks on Wednesday seeking ways to revive comatose global trade
talks and get their own Pacific rim free trade area off the drawing board.
foreign and trade ministers convened at Hanoi's spanking new, German-designed
$270 million National Convention Centre in a modern Hanoi suburb for Vietnam's
international coming-out party.
annual extravaganza that will culminate in Sunday's Leaders' Summit began on a
sour note after the US Congress failed to pass legislation normalising trade
ties with Vietnam, America's old Cold War foe.
House Republican leaders
had hoped to give US President George W. Bush a strong send-off to Hanoi by
approving the bill, but it failed again on Tuesday, after being turned down the
APEC senior officials prepared an agenda that calls for the
resumption of the Doha round of global trade talks, which collapsed in July amid
clashes over subsidies and tariffs for farm goods.
"Many have said the
APEC meeting in Vietnam is seen as a last resort to the resumption of the Doha
round," Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Le Cong Phung told reporters.
With the global trade round deadlocked, APEC leaders will discuss a free
trade agreement among their 21 economies, which account for nearly half of world
trade and generate 70 percent of global economic growth.
vision of a vast free trade area along the Pacific rim has lost considerable
momentum to a plethora of mini-deals -- at least 50 FTAs have been agreed or are
under discussion among countries represented at APEC, experts say.
First Foreign Trip
An APEC free trade zone is
worth studying, but is a poor alternative to the Doha round, said Charles
Morrison, chairman of the business think-tank, Pacific Economic Cooperation
"There is no plan B as good as plan A and that is global free
trade," he told a news conference in Hanoi on Wednesday.
Bush left late
on Tuesday on a week-long visit to Asia, his first foreign trip since his party
suffered a thumping defeat in congressional elections last week.
make a refuelling stop in Moscow, where he will hold a brief airport meeting
with Russian President Vladimir Putin, before heading to Singapore and then to
Hanoi for the summit.
Bush and Putin were expected to discuss the North
Korean nuclear crisis, among other issues.
US, Japanese and South Korean
envoys to talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons
programme were due to meet on the sidelines of the APEC meeting on Wednesday to
discuss an early December resumption of the stalled negotiations.
think we will try to use the next few weeks to be very busy and maybe begin the
talks sometime in early December, probably," US envoy Christopher Hill said in
North Korea, which conducted a defiant nuclear test last month,
has boycotted the talks involving the United States, the two Koreas, Japan,
Russia, China since last year.
APEC ministers will also consider
adopting a raft of counter-terrorism measures, including ways to upgrade airport
and seaport security, secure food against deliberate contamination, and sharing
information about avian flu and other pandemics.
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