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Wednesday, June 06, 2001, updated at 21:24(GMT+8)

Chronology of APEC Trade Ministers Meetings

The Seventh Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade Ministers Meeting opened in Shanghai on June 6 and will close on June 7.

The following is a review of major concerns discussed during past APEC meetings.

The first APEC Trade Ministers meeting opened in Jakarta, Indonesia, on October 6, 1994. It was attended by 17 trade ministers from APEC, with the exception of Chile.

The purpose of the meeting was to review the results of the Uruguay Round talks and discuss implications for the region as well as consider the next step for regional and global trade liberalization.

A joint statement, adopted at the meeting, said the ministers supported further efforts to facilitate trade and investment liberalization, and agreed to identify specific areas where Uruguay Round implementation might present particular challenges or difficulties.

The second APEC Trade Ministers meeting, attended by 18 trade ministers from among APEC members, was in Christchurch, New Zealand, July 15-16, 1996. The main topics included discussion on the implementation of the Osaka Action Agenda and finding a common position for the first World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting, which was in Singapore in December 1996.

The statement of the chair emphasized the importance of ensuring the full, effective and timely implementation of the outcome agreed in the Uruguay Round, and the importance of the on-going work in the WTO on trade in services.

The third APEC Trade Ministers meeting occurred in Montreal, Canada, on May 8-10, 1997. The theme was to review progress in APEC work programs and to identify new initiatives for liberalization and the facilitation of trade and investment.

In the chairman's statement, ministers agreed that the Individual Action Plans were key to the implementation of APEC's trade agenda.

While reviewing a range of key APEC activities designed to facilitate trade and lower the costs of doing business, the ministers reaffirmed the central role of the business sector in the APEC process and expressed optimism that APEC would continue to provide leadership to further improve the environment for conducting world trade.

The fourth APEC Trade Ministers meeting was in Kuching, Malaysia, on June 22-23, 1998, with a discussion on the implementation of the Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalization (EVSL) in nine sectors.

The statement of the chair reaffirmed that flexibility would be required to deal with product-specific concerns raised by individual economies in each sector. Such flexibility would generally be in the form of longer implementation periods. In principle, developing economies should be allowed greater flexibility in trade liberalization, facilitation and technical cooperation.

The fifth APEC meeting was in Auckland, New Zealand, on June 29-30, 1999. Trade ministers discussed issues on expanding opportunities for businesses throughout the region, strengthening market functions, improving coordination and focus in economic and technical cooperation, and broadening support for APEC.

In the statement by the chair, ministers took note of efforts made by participating APEC economies to develop a framework for the reduction or elimination of tariffs in six EVSL sectors, within an expedited time frame in accordance with the principle of flexibility, and called upon the WTO to take these efforts into account in the upcoming WTO negotiations.

The sixth APEC Trade Ministers meeting was held in Darwin, Australia, on June 6-7, 2000. The ministers discussed issues of trade and investment liberalization and expressed a positive attitude regarding the launch of a new round of talks of the WTO after the frustration in Seattle in 1999.

In the statement of the chair, ministers agreed that a new round would require a balanced agenda that was sufficiently broad-based to respond to the interests of all WTO members. Particular attention should be given to the needs of developing and least-developed economies. They also agreed that sub-regional trading arrangements should be consistent with WTO rules.

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The Seventh Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade Ministers Meeting opened in Shanghai on June 6 and will close on June 7.

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