APEC ministers voice anti-protectionist stance, advocate region-wide free trade

16:15, November 11, 2010      

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This photo taken on Nov. 11, 2010 shows a general view of the plenary session of the ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama, Japan. The two-day ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum closed on Thurday. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

Ministers of the 21-member APEC group agreed in a joint statement Thursday to refrain from introducing new trade and investment barriers until 2013 and expressed their strong commitment to expanding multilateral trading systems in the Pacific-rim region.

In the official statement issued following the conclusion of day-two of the 22nd APEC Ministerial Meeting, to be forwarded to the leaders before this weekend's summit, the trade and foreign ministers from the 21-member group pledged to take firm steps towards creating a region-wide free trade area.

The leaders agreed to "refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing WTO-inconsistent measures in all areas, including those that stimulate exports, until the end of 2013."

The anti-protectionist stance taken by the leaders is seen as vital to achieving sustainable growth and economic development in the region. While protectionist pressures in the future may occur, the leaders also expressed their strong commitment to multilateral trading and to bringing the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) to a prompt and successful conclusion.

"Recognizing that the prompt conclusion of DDA will benefit all WTO members, especially developing members, we reaffirmed that all WTO members should work together, with a sense of collective responsibility, to advance the DDA negotiations," the leaders said in the statement.

They added that they resolved to achieve a "balanced and ambitious conclusion to the negotiations as promptly as possible, consistent with the Doha mandate, built on the progress achieved, including with regard to modalities."

In addition, the basic principles of the WTO were lauded and the need for ongoing transparency and predictability by member economies, when it comes to measures that could have a bearing on trade and investment, were also emphasized.

Regarding their discussion on global trade talks they highlighted 2011 as being a "critically important window of opportunity."

"Bearing in mind that 2011 will be a critically important ' window of opportunity,' we are resolved to engage in comprehensive negotiations with a sense of urgency in the end game."

"APEC economies will make a due contribution toward a successful DDA outcome. We affirmed our commitment to win domestic support in our respective systems for a strong agreement," they said.

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