Talks at crucial stage: WTO chief

Agence France Presse

Pucon, June 4:

Global talks to devise new trade rules are at a ‘crucial’ stage, World Trade Organisation (WTO) chief Supachai Panitchpakdi has cautioned as he urged Asia-Pacific economies to set the pace for their successful conclusion. Supachai was speaking at a news meet in Chile ahead of a two-day meeting from Friday of trade ministers from the APEC forum where the stalled Doha round of trade talks is a key subject.

APEC economies, which control nearly half of world trade, include industrialized nations the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand and top exporters China and key Southeast Asia nations. “This meeting of the APEC ministers responsible for trade takes place at a very crucial moment in time,” Supachai said after talks on Thursday with forum officials at the meeting venue in Pucon, a resort town south of Santiago. He said the WTO was now devising a draft statement among its 148 members for a package of trade liberalization measures to be finalized by the end of July, holding out the prospect of a resolution to the sensitive market access issue. It “hopefully will be a framework agreement for market access areas of agriculture and non-agriculture,” said the head of the global trade watchdog.