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APEC Ministers Unite On Free Trade Policies

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

08 June 2012

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers, at their meeting in Kazan, Russia from June 4-5, 2012, pledged to achieve tangible results in regional trade and investment liberalization, and also to resist the risks of rising protectionist trends in world trade and investment.

Firstly, the ministers welcomed the continuing progress made towards, APEC’s Bogor goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region and emphasized that they remained firmly committed to their achievement.

Being committed to the multilateral trading system, they confirmed that they will pursue “regional economic integration agenda in this spirit, always seeking to ensure that the steps we take towards the eventual realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) are steps towards more open global as well as regional trade”.

Taking note of various ongoing efforts towards FTAAP, it was agreed that regular reports were made to APEC on developments related to that initiative.

In addition, in order to fulfill the APEC Leaders’ 2011 commitment to play a leadership role in launching negotiations focused on expanding the product coverage and membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and to contribute to the multilateral trading system, the ministers called on ITA participants to strengthen their engagement in order to achieve a good outcome of the negotiations.

They also encouraged the efforts to promote the facilitation and liberalization of services trade, and reaffirmed their commitment to APEC's work “to define and address next generation trade and investment issues, including the work to enhance small and medium-sized enterprises' participation in global production chains, facilitate global supply chains, and promote effective, non-discriminatory, and market-driven innovation policy".

“Taking into account current uncertainties in the global economy and persistent risks of rising protectionist trends in world trade and investment,” the ministers also remained “firmly committed to keeping protectionism at bay and to continue working on initiatives which can contribute to further trade liberalization”.

Expressing their concern about instances of rising protectionism around the world, they reiterated the commitment made by APEC’s leaders to extend to the end of 2015 their pledge 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.

At the close of the meeting, the US Trade Representative Ron Kirk referred back to last November’s APEC Leaders’ agreement to reduce tariffs on environmental goods to 5% or less, which, he said, was “a huge, huge step in this vital sector of trade”, with the trade ministers resolving to fulfill the commitment to produce by the Leaders’ meeting in September “a credible and robust list of goods to which these cuts will apply”.

TAGS: Russia | environment | tax | business | Brunei | Chile | tariffs | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | trade treaty | Australia | China | Mexico | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | agreements | small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) | Canada | Guinea | Hong Kong | Indonesia | Korea, South | Malaysia | New Zealand | Papua New Guinea | Peru | United States | trade | Japan | Vietnam | services

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