Hanoi, November 13:

Asia Pacific economies will seek to flex their political muscle and urge the resumption of stalled global trade talks at an upcoming summit of world leaders, officials said today.

They will also consider the possible creation of a massive regional free trade zone across the Pacific, senior officials of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum said after wrapping up talks here.

The meeting’s chairman, Le Cong Phung, said leaders at the weekend summit would issue a joint statement aimed at reviving the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) so-called Doha round of negotiations.

“This is the last chance for APEC leaders to save the Doha round from deadlock,” Phung, also Vietnam’s deputy foreign minister, said.

An APEC diplomatic source signalled the statement would be a political commitment from the group, which includes economic powerhouses the US, Japan and China, to re-start talks.

“It will be a very strong political message. It will call for the immediate, early resumption of negotiations,” the diplomat said.

“The most important thing is to give a political backing to Doha,” he said, adding the statement would call for flexibility amongst members to reach agreement and salvage work already done. “It will say it is important to rescue whatever has already been agreed, not to lose it.”

The Doha talks, named after the Qatari capital where the process began in 2001, has been stuck in limbo since July amid fierce argument on agricultural subsidies.

Officials here also made fledgling moves over proposals to create a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), with diplomats recommending further discussions on the idea.

“All the APEC member economies note the necessity to discuss now and consider this long-term goal,” said Phung.

Diplomats say the issue is contentious, with members divided on whether it would undermine APEC support for the multilateral trading system and progress toward the group’s goals of free trade and investment by 2010 for developed nations and 2020 for developing members.

“There are many things that have to be clarified, things that have to be discussed, many specific details. But it is important we have to start to think about it,” the diplomat said.