The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Media release

6 June 2004 - MVT42/2004

APEC Endorses Government's Trade Policy Agenda

Trade Minister Mark Vaile and other APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting in Puc´┐Żn, Chile have issued a strong statement of support for moving the Doha Round of world trade negotiations forward. They also endorsed free trade agreements as a vehicle for achieving liberalisation in the Asia-Pacific

"This MRT meeting sent a clear message that the Doha Round is our priority, but free trade agreements are very much part of APEC members' trade policy arsenal and can play a valuable role in promoting broader liberalisation. This message from APEC ministers is a clear endorsement of the Government's trade policy agenda", Mr Vaile said. "I was struck by the extent to which all APEC economies have embraced free trade agreements as a vehicle to trade and investment liberalisation."

"APEC officials will develop a set of FTA best practice principles. There is great interest in APEC in Australia's experience with FTAs and Ministers welcomed our offer to host workshops on FTA negotiations for APEC economies, to be conducted in Beijing and Brunei later this year.

"This MRT meeting comes at a critical, but promising, phase in the Doha Round and the statement of support by APEC ministers will help strengthen momentum," Mr Vaile said.

"Ministers agreed there is an urgent need for decisions to be taken in the key areas of agriculture, non-agricultural market access, services and trade facilitation, in order to achieve a negotiating framework package by July.

"APEC Ministers recognised that an ambitious outcome to the Doha Round which included agricultural reform, real improvements in market access for goods and services, and the launch of negotiations on trade facilitation would be a key engine for growth and development around the world, including in the Asia-Pacific region. The decision to endorse the abolition of agricultural export subsidies by a specific date to be agreed in the negotiations was particularly welcome. We instructed our ambassadors in Geneva to give particular attention to finding a way forward on agriculture, including agricultural export subsidies and domestic support.

"We know from the APEC experience that the benefits from open economies are considerable, but that these benefits will remain limited for those who are not prepared to participate fully in the Doha Development Agenda commitments to reduce barriers to trade.

"I was pleased to announce that Australia proposed to convene a workshop for APEC members in the second half of this year in support of WTO negotiations on trade facilitation and this initiative was warmly welcomed by APEC ministers," Mr Vaile said.

"This is an area where APEC continues to do excellent work and APEC ministers have endorsed the emerging consensus of moving ahead with trade."

Media contact: Matthew Doman (Canberra) +612 6277 7420.

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