Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, Apr 20, 2013 -- (ACN Newswire) -- Asia-Pacific Economic (APEC) forum is encouraged to do more than just performing its "traditional activities of promoting trade liberalization."

"APEC economies contribute to global growth. Its economic growth is improving while countries in other regions are facing downturn," said Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, in the opening remarks of 19th APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting, here, on Saturday.

"Minister Wirjawan spoke in his capacity as chairman of APEC ministerial meeting. The meeting takes place on 20-21 April attended by delegates from 19 out of APEC's 21 member economies, representatives from four organizations, ASEAN, WTO, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and APEC Secretariat.
The MRT meeting is preceded by a series of meetings at the level of sub-fora and working groups since April 7, 2013, whose results subsequently summarized in the meetings of the Committee on Trade and Investment, Economic Committee and Sub-Committee.

Wirjawan pointed out that APEC members need to increase its economic and technical cooperation and acknowledgement apart from its traditional activity of promoting more trade liberalization in the region.

Indonesia hosts APEC meetings in 2013 and has set the theme "Resilient Asia Pacific, Engine of Global growth." With this theme, Indonesia hopes to continue to promote a stronger and resilient Asia Pacific as a locomotive of the world's economic growth.

In an earlier press briefing, Iman Pambagyo, Indonesian Director General of International Trade Cooperation, Ministry of Trade, said APEC is known as being advanced, open, and ever evolving forum so that it can contribute to a better global growth as many other countries facing difficulties.

APEC also recognizes the need to balance the activities of the liberalization and facilitation of trade through import taxes, said Pambagyo who led the Indonesian delegation at APEC senior officials meeting (SOM) convened on 18-19 April, preceding the ministerial meeting.

"Enlightenment on the significance of APEC is reflected in the first round of the selection of the (new) director general of WTO of which out of the five candidates, four are from APEC countries, Indonesia, New Zealand, Mexico, Korea.

"So, the spread can been seen on the map. There are (those) from the upper and middle part of East Asia, there's from the South Pacific, there's from over there but still from the Pacific coast that is Mexico," Pambagyo said, adding the fact shows a global recognition that this region has given birth to the world champions of the international trade to be reckoned with.

Regarding the stalemate of the Doha Round, Pambagyo said APEC is based on the principle of 'Supporting the Multilateral Trading System,' because by coincidence since 2001 as the Doha Round existed, thus anytime the ministers meet, that part is discussed. But when it started to be stagnant since 2004, then emerged statements like ones giving political support.

"If it's not wrong, the leaders had twice spoken up about the need for every WTO member country to encourage completion of the Doha Round. So far it has never finished," said Pambagyo.

Completion of Doha Round

Pambagyo though remained optimistic on completion of the Doha Round whose mechanism, among others, through the agreement on a small package first for a balance. "But this package is not for developed countries alone," he emphasized.

It is also for the developing countries and the LDCs. Going first from the small parts for us to build trust while we're talking about what will be the next steps. So don't negotiate every time we meet. All of it was piled up and so interlocked. So we want to agree on a result which is easy to reach," he added.

Pambagyo explained the negotiation package in the Doha Round must be based on the issues being negotiated such as trade facilitation package and the Least Developed Countries package. The packages reserved for the LDCs, according to him, might include quota free and access facilitation.

"There are also issues we see needed for consideration regarding the developing countries like elements of agricultural trade such as trade quota administration then also stock holding for food security, and not on the issues of regional or multilateral," he went on to say.
The WTO is expected to agree on those small packages, the balanced package and reflects the interests of all. "So don't go for the big ones first. If it is the big ones first, when they stuck it gets prolonged. Non-Agriculture Market Access is for manufactured products, that's a lot of thousands HS discussed or agricultural demand, it's also a lot of," he said.

When associated with negotiations in the services sector, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) was a large package once. "So it is difficult to reach a conclusion. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," the Director General pointed out.

APEC is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim economies seeking to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world.

The second APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM) was held in Bogor, Indonesia, on November 15, 1994, when the leaders taking this opportunity to exchange views on where the economies of the region needed to go for the next 25 years, based on the Bogor Goals.

The 'Bogor Goals' of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies was envisaged by the leaders in their vision of the state of the economic and trade for the region by these time frames.

Indonesia holds APEC chairmanship for 2013 after taking over from Russia last year. The last time Indonesia became the forum's chair was 1994.

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Bambang Purwanto
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