APEC to break global trade deadlock

Hanoi, November 15:

Key Asia-Pacific economies said today they were ready to break the deadlock in global trade talks and urged other blocs to follow suit, according to a statement.

The draft highlights agriculture as the ‘key pending issue’ and diplomats said the way the text was phrased was a call to the European Union to show more flexibility to revive the stalled talks. The statement will be formally issued at a weekend summit of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum including US president George W Bush, his Chinese and Russian counterparts Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin, and the prime ministers of Australia and Japan.

“We reaffirm our collective and individual commitments to concluding ambitious and equitable outcomes of the Doha Development Agenda,” it says, referring to the current round of World Trade Organisation talks. “To meet this goal, we must break the current dea-dlock and restart the negotiation as soon as possible to a path toward success. We are ready to break the curre-nt deadlock.” But the leaders will urge key developed economies and their ‘partners’ to take similar steps to break the impasse.

Meanwhile, a US proposal to set up a massive Pacific Rim free-trade zone will be set aside for study until a regional meeting next year.

Series of FTAs

HANOI: Japan is ready to sign a free trade pact with Thailand that was initiated by deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but is awa-iting the go-ahead from the new government. And Canada has also agreed to resume stall-ed FTA talks with Singapore, and Peru, Colo-mbia and Ecuador. — AP