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APEC Stresses Doha Urgency

by Leroy Baker,, New York

24 May 2011

A major negotiating breakthrough is required if the Doha Round is to reach a successful conclusion, with many gaps remaining unbridgeable, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization has said.

In a statement endorsed by the grouping's Ministers Responsible for Trade, the difficulties confronting the Round are viewed with a collective deep concern. The statement, adopted following a two-day meeting, from May 19-20, notes that work on the talks has not progressed in keeping with the aspirations of APEC's leaders, despite intensive engagement by World Trade Organization (WTO) officials. This year, during which conclusion of the Round had been earmarked, offers a window of opportunity, but the Ministers argue that only a major substantive breakthrough in the negotiations will lead to a successful outcome.

The statement goes on to stress APEC's commitment to Doha success, which, it is noted, compels the organization to explore urgently, with fellow WTO members, the next steps towards sustaining and advancing the process of reform and liberalization in trade policies. Of most significance, perhaps, is the directing of APEC negotiators to review all available options, and cooperate to find a path forward.

Commenting on the urgency of the situation, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that "without abandoning our commitment to the success of the Round, we need to begin a hard-nosed discussion of what can be done. We need to explore what ‘next steps’ we can take to find a more productive path – and, if we find that path, to take it as quickly as possible."

APEC consists of 21 member economies, including Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Peru, and the US, which currently acts as chair.

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