Mumbai: Leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation have pledged to make concessions on agricultural issues to revive the stalled world trade talks. Heads of states of the APEC forum meeting in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, said they were taking the lead to break the deadlock so that others follow.
"We are ready to break the current deadlock: each of us is committed to moving beyond our current positions in key areas," they said in a statement released today. "That means making deeper reductions in trade-distorting farm support by major players, creating new market access in agriculture, making real cuts in industrial tariffs and establishing new openings in services trade while dealing seriously with members' concerns and sensitivities," the statement added.
The Doha round of WTO talks, aimed at forging a global trade treaty collapsed four months ago due to differences over farm subsidies and industrial tariffs.
Less developed and developing countries are seeking an end to export subsidies and restrictive tariffs that prevent them from selling their farm goods in rich countries. But the developed countries have so far been holding on to their protectionist policies due to resistance from politically powerful agricultural lobbies in those countries.
WTO director-general Pascal Lamy had warned APEC's trade negotiators that they should resume informal meetings on lowering barriers to farm and manufactured goods trade if the WTO negotiations are to proceed. The 21-member group accounts for about half the world's trade and about 60 per cent of its total economic activity.
Key players in the trade talks - the European Union, Brazil and India - are, however, not part of APEC. But, "APEC's future is inextricably linked to a stronger and vibrant multilateral trading system. We will remain personally involved to ensure that negotiations are resumed and will ensure the necessary flexibility and ambition to secure a breakthrough. We expect our partners in other regions to be similarly bold and engaged," the statement said.
APEC member Vietnam is due to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 30 days after its National Assembly approves an agreement. Russia's admission to the WTO is also a probability following an agreement between US and Russian negotiators on the terms of a bilateral trade deal.