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FTA, end to Doha round top Apec agenda

Publication Date : 08-09-2012


Twenty-one leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries will gather in Russia this week to draw up a consensus agreement on a free-trade pact, as well as push for the conclusion of the marathon talks of the Doha Round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) amid high concern over the global downturn.

Apec nations reached an agreement on reducing tariffs on 54 items, which will directly benefit businesses concerned with environmental protection and energy-savings, in a bid to promote sustainable growth of the grouping.

At the Apec Leaders' Summit in Vladivostok, Russia today and tomorrow, Apec trade ministers will propose that the leaders send a strong message to support the Doha Round after the global trade talks have been on the brink of failure for years. The wrapping-up of the WTO talks is needed now to promote global trade growth and benefit developing nations amidst economic recession in the euro countries," said Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand will also participate in the leaders' summit.

"Apec economic ministers will also propose that the leaders support deregulation in an attempt to facilitate an Apec free-trade agreement in the future. The Apec community agreed to increase trade facilitation and promote investment among members.

Apec also vowed to promote "green economy" policies as part of the plan to increase environmental protection and sustainable development in the grouping. It will discuss how to adopt information technology to encourage the economic bloc, as well as create a safe environment for the electronic trading system. The bloc will also discuss how to increase efficiency in energy usage, and seek clean energy sources. Food security will also be discussed during the summit so that each member state can find ways to increase agricultural production and adopt new innovation in farming.

Boonsong said the Apec countries would reduce tariffs on 54 products related to environmental protection and energy saving by 2015. The tariffs on those products would be cut to 0-5 per cent. Among the 54 products are windmill, biosteamer, incinerator, and solar-cell water heater.

The minister said that the agreement to cut tariffs for environmentally friendly products would largely benefit Thailand as the country has relied largely on import of those products.

Currently, the tariffs for the environmentally friendly products among Apec members are quite high, with tariff on some products set at 35 per cent.


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