Former Minister for Trade
Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms
21 November 2008

APEC Ministers Build on G20 Leaders' Momentum

Minister for Trade Simon Crean has welcomed the success of the 20th APEC Ministerial Meeting in Lima, Peru, where ministers expressed their strong support to conclude the framework for the WTO Doha Round this year.

Following on from the G20 Leaders’ statement in Washington last week which called for a successful conclusion to the Doha Round by the year’s end, APEC ministers instructed their senior officials to be available in Geneva this weekend to undertake expeditiously the required preparatory work for a meeting of ministers in Geneva by the end of this year.

“This is an excellent outcome and will provide further impetus to the negotiations, which are of critical importance to the global economy,” Mr Crean said.

APEC Ministers also agreed to urge their regional groupings and economic partners to show flexibility in order to contribute to the achievement of an ambitious and balanced outcome to the Doha Round.

APEC comprises nine of the G20 countries and over half of the world’s gross domestic product. More than two-thirds of Australia’s total trade in goods and services is with APEC economies. It remains a powerful and influential forum.

“The global financial crisis requires a comprehensive international response. APEC is playing an important role through helping to narrow the outstanding differences remaining from the July WTO Ministers Meeting in Geneva,” Mr Crean said.

“Historically trade has grown at three times the rate of world output. It is the great economic multiplier. If countries are to continue to develop and prosper, then we must engage as much as possible in the international trading system.”

At the APEC Trade Ministers meeting in Arequipa in May, ministers did the necessary work to facilitate a WTO Ministerial Meeting in Geneva in July. That meeting progressed 80% of the Doha Agenda, with the strong support of APEC members.

“We will now have the opportunity in December to finally conclude modalities for the Round,” Mr Crean said.

At the APEC Meeting, Australia also formally announced that it would join negotiations in the comprehensive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

“This is an agreement that will involve the P4 countries of Brunei, Singapore, Chile and New Zealand – as well as the United States and Peru,” Mr Crean said.

“The P4 agreement came into force in 2006 as a pathway to free trade across the Asia Pacific. This agreement could lay the foundation for the long term goal of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).

“The Trans Pacific Partnership is a significant strategic opportunity for the Asia Pacific to enhance liberalisation within the region, and I am delighted that Australia will have a seat at the table when negotiations commence in March 2009.”

APEC Ministers also agreed to continue their work on closer regional economic integration, a core element of APEC’s agenda.

“We must continue this essential work in order to tackle behind the border impediments to trade and investment, which effectively stymies economic development. Structural economic reform is a fundamentally important in order to develop vibrant, resilient and robust economies,” Mr Crean said.

In addition to a significant program of bilateral meetings in the margins of the APEC Ministerial Meeting, Mr Crean hosted a meeting of those Cairns Group Ministers in Lima with the aim of furthering momentum to conclude modalities on the Doha Round this year.

“I was heartened by the commitment shown by Cairns Group Ministers to do all that they can to bring the Round to a successful conclusion,” Mr Crean said.

“During my bilateral meeting with Dr Mercedes Araoz, I took the opportunity to congratulate Peru on their excellent host year of APEC. I look forward to working with Singapore next year as we continue to build on APEC’s achievements to date in order to take the agenda forward.”

Mr Crean also hosted a meeting of Ministers of the next three hosts of APEC – Singapore, Japan and the United States. 

“The development of an ambitious future work program over the next three years is a strong priority for the Australian Government and reflects our long term commitment to APEC,” he said.

Media Inquiries: Mr Crean's office 02 6277 7420 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555