USTR - USTR Zoellick to Attend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting in Chile, November 17-18
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

USTR Zoellick to Attend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting in Chile, November 17-18
Contact: Richard Mills / Neena Moorjani (202) 395-3230 11/16/2004


WASHINGTON - United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will attend the Sixteenth Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) forum in Santiago, Chile on November 17-18, to discuss ways to promote trade and investment liberalization within the region, as well as promoting global economic growth and prosperity.

"APEC has been instrumental in liberalizing trade around the world and among its 21 member economies, which account for nearly 50% of world trade," Zoellick said. "In the meetings later this week, the United States hopes to work with others to build on APEC’s market-opening efforts."

"As this is the first Ministerial Meeting since the WTO framework agreement reached in Geneva, I look forward to discussing with my colleagues plans for continuing to advance the Doha global trade talks," Zoellick continued. "During these negotiations, APEC has emerged as a constructive voice for pushing global trade liberalization."

At the APEC meeting in Thailand in October 2003, following the breakdown of global trade talks in Cancun, APEC played an important and constructive role in promoting trade liberalization by calling on WTO members to return to the talks and build upon the Cancun draft Ministerial text. Furthermore, in June 2004, APEC Ministers called for trade facilitation negotiations, generating momentum for their launch as part of the WTO negotiating framework reached in Geneva at the end of July.

This year’s Ministerial Meeting in Santiago will also focus on cutting red tape and reducing transactions costs for businesses operating in the Asia Pacific, seeking ways to ensure high-standard FTAs in the region, and further strengthening IPR regimes in the APEC economies.

APEC has established a solid partnership with the business community. APEC Leaders created the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) in 1995 to formally advise economies on the implementation of APEC's free trade and investment goals. ABAC provides to Leaders advice and formal policy recommendations on an annual basis.

"APEC members account for nearly 65% of U.S. exports and we continue to explore ways to expand trade with our partners around the Pacific Rim, including FTA's with other APEC economies. We have an FTA with Canada and Mexico in NAFTA, last year we concluded free trade agreements with Singapore and Chile, in May 2004 the United States and Australia signed only the third FTA between developed countries, and this summer we began FTA negotiations with Peru and Thailand," added Zoellick.

During his visit to Chile, Zoellick will speak at the National Center for APEC’s 10th Anniversary celebration and will also meet individually with a number of his APEC counterparts to discuss bilateral issues and initiatives, and ways to work together on the Doha Agenda and APEC to further trade liberalization.

"It is fitting that these APEC meetings are here in Chile because Chile is a prime beneficiary of open markets," said Zoellick. The newly implemented U.S. – Chile Free Trade Agreement has seen close to a 20 percent increase in Chile’s exports to the U.S. and a 32 percent increase in U.S. exports to Chile from January through September 2004. Over time Chile’s steady march towards open markets has been accompanied by a decrease in the poverty rate, declining from 45.1 percent in 1987 to 18.8 percent in 2003. GDP more than doubled in that same time period. Free trade, combined with sound fiscal and monetary policy, has been part of a formula for sound economic growth.

The 21 APEC members are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korean, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United States and Vietnam.

Background:

The United States is working to open markets globally in the Doha World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations; regionally through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Free Trade Area (FTAA) of the Americas negotiations; and bilaterally, with FTAs.

Within the Doha negotiations, the United States was the first WTO member to put forward a comprehensive agricultural trade reform proposal, calling for elimination of export subsidies, cuts of $100 billion in annual allowed global trade-distorting domestic subsidies, and lowering average allowed global tariffs from 62 percent to 15 percent. The United States also proposed that WTO members agree in this negotiation to a specific date for elimination of agricultural tariffs and trade-distorting domestic support.

The United States proposed eliminating all tariffs on consumer and industrial goods by 2015. The U.S. plan for zero tariffs is comprehensive, would benefit both developed and developing nations, and would eliminate tariffs on the over $6 trillion in annual world goods trade, lifting the economic fortunes of workers, families, businesses, and consumers. A University of Michigan study estimates that global free trade in goods and services would raise U.S. annual income by $500 billion as a result of tariff-free trade - contributing to higher paying jobs. The same study found gains of up to $690 billion for the EU and EFTA together (Western Europe).

According to the World Bank, developing countries would gain nearly two-thirds of the benefit from global free trade in goods including agriculture. Their increase in annual income would amount to $539 billion. The bank further found that free trade could help lift 300 million people out of poverty - a number greater than the entire population of the United States.

 

 
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