APEC holds preparatory
meeting in Surabaya

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) senior officials will meet in Surabaya next week to discuss preparations for the APEC summit, which will be held in Bali in October.

Indonesian Trade Ministry director general for international trade cooperation Iman Pambagyo said in Jakarta on Friday that at the Surabaya meeting, which would be the second preparatory meeting after a similar gathering in Jakarta in February, APEC’s senior trade officials would discuss several important issues to boost trade cooperation and investment in the region.

In addition, the meeting, to be held next Saturday and Monday, would also be used to prepare member countries for the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference, which will also be held in Bali in December, Imam said.

He said senior officials would discuss the possibility of resuming the Doha negotiations, which had been stalled over divides on major issues, such as trade facilitation and the least developed countries (LDC) package, since 2001.

The LDC package is a proposed scheme to provide duty-free and quota-free conditions for LDCs to get greater market access.

Developing countries such as Indonesia, China, India, Egypt and South Africa all pushed for an LDC package supported by Bangladesh on behalf of the LDCs.

Meanwhile, trade facilitation such as transport formalities, import and export procedures and payments are estimated to cut business costs by between US$359 billion and $1 trillion according to data provided by the WTO.

 “We want to bridge the interests of developed countries, developing countries and LDCs,” he added.

In addition, the Surabaya meeting would also discuss sustainable growth with equity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other low-income earners.

Globalization and liberalization are thought to have brought benefits to many, but have also marginalized small players, such as SMEs. The member countries will discuss how to improve SMEs and entrepreneurs so they will be ready for regional economic integration.

Another issue that will be discussed is connectivity among countries in the region. Asia Pacific is a huge region and infrastructure as well as people to people connectivity is considered important to providing easier access for countries in the region. (koi)

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