The 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping today vowed to steer clear of protectionist tendencies and move towards a world trade deal under the Doha Round of negotiations by 2010.
The APEC ministers meeting in Singapore are reported to have gone beyond the concerns of the World Trade Organisation and agreed on removing all irritants to trade, irrespective of whether those measures are WTO-compliant or not.
"They all agreed that even if the measures are WTO-consistent, if they have serious protectionist impact on trade and investment they will refrain from taking those measures as much as possible," reports quoted an official source as saying.
The subject of protectionism was raised by primary goods exporting countries like Australia and Indonesia and was supported by Thailand and Taiwan. They said such measures by countries like the United States are hurting exports of agricultural and automotive products.
"We want to use the meeting to generate further momentum for the conclusion of the World Trade Organisation's Doha Round of global trade negotiations and continue our work to resist protectionism and facilitate trade in the APEC region," Australian trade minister Simon Crean said.
"The best answer to get out of this crisis is the early conclusion of the Doha round," said South Korea's trade minister Kim Jong Hoon.