APEC Attempts to Revive Talks With WTO
Ron Corben Bangkok 17 Oct 2003, 16:11 UTC
Asia Pacific trade ministers meeting in Thailand are hoping to patch up the world trade talks that failed last month. Trade and economic ministers of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC, are now optimistic that they can help the World Trade Organization restart talks on trade reform. The ministers have been attending frantic rounds of meetings in Bangkok before the leaders' summit next week. APEC trade and foreign ministers agreed Friday that a "clear, strong message" from the group would help put WTO trade negotiations back on track. The ministers believe new talks are necessary to revitalize global economic growth. WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi is telling the envoys that negotiations must continue despite lingering disagreements from the WTO meeting in Mexico last month. Australian Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, agrees, adding that participants have had time to reflect since the talks broke down in September, and are ready to reconsider some issues. "This is one of those opportunities and we cannot miss it, and we've got to ensure that at the top of the leaders' statement is a very, very strong call for all member countries of the WTO to get ba ck to the negotiating table," he said. Some of the more divisive issues at the WTO meeting were over agricultural subsidies and market access. The APEC ministers are calling on the WTO to convene a meeting no later than December 15 to decide on how to move the trade talks forward.