Despite the pessimism over the prospects for the conclusion of the WTO Doha Development Round, APEC Trade Ministers today agreed that an early harvest on trade facilitation would generate confidence in the multilateral trading system.

Minsters opened their meeting on Monday in Kazan by sharing concerns about rising protectionism around the world but took comfort in the Asia-Pacific region’s firm resistance against such barriers, which are detrimental to economic growth and development.

Hosted by Andrey Belousov, Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Ministers were briefed by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy on the state of world trade and the status of the Doha negotiations. Members welcomed the forthcoming accession of Russia to the World Trade Organization.

“We should inject optimism into the dismal global economic picture,” said Belousov. “We need to focus on achieving results where we can make real tangible progress and provide short-term achievements for the world economy.”

Last year, economies committed to developing an APEC list of environmental goods in 2012 that directly and positively contribute to the region’s green growth and sustainable development objectives.

Speaking to Ministers, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov underscored the dynamic importance of the Asia-Pacific region and the role it plays in global trade negotiations.  

“We hope to have the list of environmental goods by September,” said Shuvalov.”It could be a positive, tangible signal that APEC could achieve results to help the international trade system,” he said.

“Having such a list is a specific positive contribution that we could make to multilateral trade negotiations in connection to the new quality of growth,” echoed Belousov. “This interdependency is particularly significant for the Asia-Pacific region,” he continued.

Commenting on the state of world trade and lack of progress on the Doha Development Agenda, Lamy stated that the global economic picture is not looking good.

“World trade growth is slowing and protectionist barriers are rising,” explained Lamy. “What’s worrying is the slow accumulation of protectionism.”

“It’s not only protectionist pressures; it’s not only protectionist rhetoric,” he continued. “It’s protectionist action. This necessitates increased vigilance.”

Though progress at the WTO on trade facilitation is slow, Lamy pointed to APEC’s results.

"May I suggest that APEC, as a group, is in a good position to contribute to a compromise on trade facilitation."

Belousov agreed: “We hope that by the time APEC Leaders meet in September we will have a mutually acceptable solution.”

Trade Ministers will continue to meet on Tuesday. They will report their results to Leaders in Vladivostok in September.

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