SOMARE URGES APEC TO ADVANCE WTO NEGOTIATIONS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 21) – Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has told fellow Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] leaders that they must redouble their efforts in advancing negotiations in the Doha Development Agenda.

Addressing the first retreat of the two-day APEC leaders’ summit in Busan, South Korea, Sir Michael said APEC had been consistent and firm in its support to the World Trade Organization Doha Agenda negotiations.

"I share the views of other leaders that APEC must try and help the Doha Round arrive at a mutually satisfying conclusion for all parties by the end of 2006.

"Therefore, the Hong Kong World Trade Organization Ministerial conference in December is critical. APEC must make the necessary commitments here in Busan to help set the stage for a successful conclusion of the conference," he said.

In the service negotiations, Sir Michael said APEC leaders had made the commitment to lodge offers by the deadlines, and agreed to support the flexible Swiss Formula, or its equivalent, for tariff reductions in the Non-Agriculture Market Access negotiations.

"This will help advance negotiations in critical areas like agriculture."

Sir Michael said while some progress may have been realized, it was obvious that this was not enough to break the current impasse in agriculture negotiations, particularly in market access.

"As Papua New Guinea is a developing economy, I am pleased with the APEC leaders’ statement in recognition of the special needs of least developed and vulnerable Island members in the World Trade Organization negotiation process," he added.

Meanwhile, Sir Michael said Papua New Guinea "is encouraged" by the progress report on the Mid-term Stock Take (MTST) of the Bogor Goals.

"The report provides a clear and forward-looking assessment of the progress we have made since APEC adopted the Bogor Goals in 1994.

"We should feel proud that average tariffs in APEC economies have declined substantially, and the measures that we have taken have led to increased intra-APEC trade, creation of more employment opportunities, and substantial growth in investment in our economies."

He said the report also provided practical recommendations for future action that APEC must take, either individually or collectively, in opening up trade with other economies.

A ‘Busan Roadmap to the Bogor Goals’ that was developed provides a guide that ensures necessary actions are taken to achieve the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment by 2010 for developed and 2020 for developing economies.

"In the South Pacific, we have developed our own trading arrangements to promote more open trade amongst ourselves. The arrangements that we have developed are consistent with WTO requirements.

"As a member of Pacific Closer Economic Relations Agreement, the Pacific Islands Commercial & Trade Agreement, and the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement, we are actively seeking ways to further free up trade and investment."

[PIR editor’s note: Sir Michael is referring to the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) and the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA). See FAQs on PACER & PICTA.]

Sir Michael said Papua New Guinea’s experience was that these trade arrangements had contributed to increasing the volume and value of trade with other members.

"We are in the process of strengthening these arrangements, including the coverage of important areas such as investment and trade in services.

"To this effect, we reviewed and signed the revised Melanesia Spearhead Group Trade Agreement last month, allowing other Pacific Island countries to join as members."

November 22, 2005

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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