Thank you Mr. Chairman.
This first ever meeting of APEC Mining Ministers is truly a great occasion for APEC. On behalf of the APEC Secretariat I would like to extend our welcome to Ministers, delegates and representatives of the mining industry, to the APEC family.
As you work through the issues before you and deliver the Antofagasta Declaration, this meeting will be making a substantial contribution to the goals of the APEC Process.
For APEC Member Economies, be these net producers or consumers of mined products, the health and capacity of the mining industry is essential for our economies.
Members such as Chile, Australia, China, Indonesia, Peru and Russia have a particularly strong interest in the mining sector. For the world's largest coal exporter, Australia, annual trade of around 250 million tonnes is worth in the vicinity of US$9.8 billion.
This represents 11 per cent of Australia's total exports. Chile's economy is growing at its fastest rate for four years and this is driven in large part by stronger copper prices. Chile, along with other minerals producers in the region, has benefited from surging demand on the world's market. Shipments to China, made up mostly of copper, were worth US$1.85 billion last year, which was an increase of 45 per cent on the year before.
These figures attributed to mining activities are substantial. As mining is such an important sector for the APEC Region, Chile has turned a new leaf in APEC history by proposing and organizing this APEC Mining Ministers' Meeting.
In my presentation today, and as many ministers and delegates are new to the APEC Process, I will provide you with brief perspective on the role of the APEC Secretariat and information on the overall APEC process.
The APEC Secretariat is based in Singapore and is staffed by around fifty people. We are the repository of institutional memory and a centre for information and planning for APEC. Together we serve the 21 Member Economies that are the custodians of the APEC process. We assist APEC Member Economies to reach the shared goal of building a stable, prosperous and secure community in the Asia-Pacific region. Like any community, ours is linked by a number of factors. We are diverse in terms of history, culture and economic development, while we are increasingly related in terms of our investment and trading interaction.
Our community accounts for around half the world's trade and is home to 2.5 billion people. As our regional economy strengthens we will continue to lower barriers to trade and expand the links that unify us.
The APEC process is itself very broad. While our Annual Economic Leaders' Meeting is the most prominent, each year there are significant number of APEC events that take place and projects that are undertaken around the region.
This year as well as the Leaders Meeting in Santiago in November, there will be a total of ten ministerial meetings and around 75 APEC working level meetings covering numerous sectors of the regional economy and creating a vibrant human network.
This broad range of areas in which APEC is involved is a reflection of the interrelated nature of the globalized economy of the today's world. Reaching APEC's goals involves more than just lowering tariffs, but it includes removing impediments and strengthening capacity to trade across multiple industries, sectors and economies.
At APEC, our central objectives are based around a specific set of free trade and investment goals. Established in Bogor, Indonesia, in 1994, these are the goals of free and open trade and investment in the APEC Region by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies.
However, participants in the APEC process are well aware that in order for our Bogor Goals to be met, our combined efforts across industries and economies must be well planned and coordinated.
This meeting in Chile is the fifth APEC Ministerial Meeting to take place in 2004. We have already held the APEC Science Ministers' Meeting in New Zealand and Education Ministers' Meeting in Santiago earlier in the year, and this month there are three ministerial meetings taking place on both sides of the Pacific. Not only is this meeting of APEC Mining Ministers taking place in June, but the last week the 6th APEC Energy Ministers Meeting was held in Manila, in The Philippines, and the week before was the 10th Meeting of APEC Ministers' Responsible for Trade in Pucón in Southern Chile. The next major event on the agenda is the Meeting of APEC Transport Ministers in Bali next month.
These ministerial level meetings are important driving forces behind the APEC process and a strength that makes APEC such an important forum.
Agreement reached by ministers ensures a high level of political support and momentum for the implementation of APEC initiatives in Member Economies.
A number of issues raised in these meetings also relate directly to the mining sector. These include areas such as:
Creating an environment for more open investment opportunities and to set transparency standards to ensure investments are secure;Facilitating the more open movement of specialist skills across borders and the recognition of credentials from one economy to another, and Measures to protect energy supply chains once resources have been mined and are being distributed.One of the major ministerial events on the APEC calendar is the meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade. This year's MRT meeting was a particularly important meeting for the regional and global economy due to the stall in the current round of WTO negotiations. At the meeting in Pucón, APEC Trade Ministers committed their economies to achieving a specific set of results by July that are intended to help revive talks in Geneva. Of interest to Mining Ministers was the recent meeting of APEC Energy Ministers in Manila last week. At this meeting ministers made a commitment to strengthen cooperation to protect the region from disruptions to oil and other energy supplies. APEC Energy Ministers have welcomed the participation of business, research and financial communities to develop response mechanisms to meet these energy security objectives.
Over the following months other ministerial meetings will take place. These include meetings of Ministers Responsible fo Finance, SME's, Tourism Ministers as well as the Joint Ministerial Meeting.
Just as the information from other ministerial events has relevance to this meeting, the issues that Mining Ministers' discuss will be of interest to others. I am sure the Antofagasta Declaration will be well received by Leaders, Ministers and all participants in the APEC process.
As you may be aware, APEC activities have expanded to include areas such as health security, counter terrorism as it affects trade and social issues such as gender and human resource development. While these are not specific economic issues, they are nonetheless issues that have a direct impact on the economic health of the region.
APEC also holds a number of dialogues with specific industries. These are powerful forums for advancing liberalization initiatives, trade facilitation activities, and technical cooperation projects.
The support of industry representatives in these dialogues has ensured the forums are able to deliver tangible results and contribute effectively to movement towards APEC's free trade and investment goals.
These dialogues are in the areas of the automotive and chemicals sectors, and, of particular relevance to the Mining sector, the Dialogue on Non-Ferrous Metals. This new dialogue was launched in Pucón in the lead-up to the Ministers for Trade meeting.
The main objective of the APEC Non-Ferrous Metals Dialogue is to bring together representatives of government and business to promote cooperation and interaction in this important sector. This includes trade-related regulatory policy, competitiveness and sustainable development of non-ferrous metals trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
It is anticipated that this new dialogue will build greater understanding between government officials and businesspeople to increase non-ferrous trade. The dialogue is also intended to work to eliminate both tariff and non-tariff barriers in this area.
The range of APEC events that are taking place in the following months are doing so under the theme established by Chile as our host Economy for the APEC 2004 Year.
Chile has chosen the central theme of: "One Community, Our Future."The theme recognizes that APEC Member Economies are neighbors and a part of a real community that must work together to achieve shared prosperity in the years to come.
This 1st Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Mining has an important part to play in achieving this shared prosperity. I am confident that the meeting will be a great success and provide benefits for the sector around the region.
We are most fortunate to be visiting the locations on our itinerary that will showcase the magnitude of the Chilean mining industry. I would like to extend my deep appreciation to the host of this Meeting for their warm hospitality and excellent arrangements.
Thank you.