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Jakarta Post

Indonesia asks APEC to kickstart Doha talks

  • Linda Yulisman

    The Jakarta Post

Surabaya   /   Sun, April 21, 2013   /  09:35 am

Indonesia is calling on fellow members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to support collective action to ensure the success of the World Trade Organization'€™s (WTO) meeting in Bali in December.

APEC, which accounts for more than 40 percent of global trade and half of the world'€™s economic output, can play a key role in facilitating progress on the long-delayed Doha Development Agenda negotiations, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said while opening a two-day meeting of APEC trade ministers on Saturday in Surabaya, East Java.

'€œThe meeting in Bali should be considered as a stepping stone to address the much-needed push to advance the Doha negotiations toward their eventual conclusion,'€ Gita said. '€œWhat I can see from the meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee in Geneva in April is that we are still far from securing a Bali package that is practical, credible and acceptable to all members.'€

As the host of the 9th WTO ministerial conference ( MC9 ), Indonesia wants to generate a small package of deliverables from the Doha Round trade talks, which have been deadlocked since 2008.

The proposed deliverables, which include trade facilitation, agriculture and least developed countries packages, are considered crucial for restoring confidence among members and would pave the way to revive the Doha talks and start new negotiations on issues such as services and green technology.

However, concerns have emerged, as progress to conclude a tentative agreement on the packages has been deemed too slow, raising fears whether it is possible to attain the expected deals in time at the meeting.

WTO director general Pascal Lamy said during an informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting last week that there should be '€œa change in mind-set'€, with members expected to move from exploring and understanding issues to closing gaps to reach consensus.

Meanwhile, WTO deputy director general Alejandro Jara said that APEC members were expected to provide political support to accelerate preparations for the Bali meeting.

 '€œAPEC is capable of producing political energy and translating it into actual actions that can produce results very quickly,'€ Jara told reporters after the first day of the trade ministers meeting.

Since its establishment, APEC has worked to liberalize and facilitate trade in the region, proposing several initiatives that were implemented by the WTO, Jara said.

APEC, established in 1989, has implemented several trade facilitation deals that have eased customs procedures, enhanced transparency, increased predictability for implementing procedures and lowered business costs.

The 21-member grouping has agreed to reduce tariffs between members from 17 percent in 2002 to 5.8 percent in 2010. Between 2007 and 2010, APEC members pushed down transaction costs by 5 percent, reportedly saving businesses US$58.7 billion.

In 2011, trade between Indonesia and APEC members was US$289.3 billion, up 28.98 percent from a year earlier, accounting for 75 percent of the country'€™s external trade.

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