APEC Ministers’ Statement on the WTO, the Doha Development Agenda Negotiations, and Resisting Protectionism
1. We, the APEC Ministers responsible for Trade, gathering for our 23rd meeting in Honolulu, United States, reiterated our profound confidence in the underlying institutional strength and value of the rules-based multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO.
2. Mindful of this, and as we look ahead to the 8th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, we emphasized our collective deep concern regarding the impasse that now clearly confronts the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), and the reality that a conclusion of all elements of the Doha agenda is unlikely in the near future. We recognized that this situation reflects deep substantive divergences that are proving more difficult to resolve than any of us would wish. It is clear that we will not complete the DDA if we continue to conduct negotiations as we have in the past, but none of us intends to abandon efforts that would allow for better progress toward the ultimate conclusion of the DDA.
3. Indeed, we are committed to approaching the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference and negotiations beyond it with a view to fresh thinking and a determination to begin exploring fresh and credible approaches. Such approaches should include the possibility of advancing pragmatically in specific areas under the Doha work program where progress can be achieved, and where consensus agreements might be reached on a provisional or definitive basis in accordance with the Doha mandate, including the provision to reflect such agreements in assessing the overall balance. We must continue to recognize the strong development dimension of the DDA as we move forward to further liberalize trade and to strengthen the rules-based trading system. In so doing, we will build on progress achieved to date, including on issues of concern for Least Developed Countries.
4. We reaffirmed that the multilateral trading system is an essential source of sustainable economic growth, development, and stability, and take considerable satisfaction in the success of the WTO in contributing to the beginnings of global economic recovery. The WTO has amply proven its worth as a bulwark against protectionism during a highly challenging period, and this role, including in particular its monitoring role, will remain essential. As our economies and others continue to address evolving challenges and opportunities, it will be important for the WTO to contribute, with development as a continuing priority. We reaffirmed that “Aid for Trade” (AfT) is an important element in helping developing Members increase their participation in, and realize the benefits of, the multilateral trading system. We welcomed the output of the 3rd AfT Global Review Meeting held in July 2011 and look forward to the upcoming discussion on Aid for Trade at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Busan, Korea later this month. We will continue to seek means of ensuring the effectiveness of AfT.
5. Open markets are vital for growth and job creation, enabling strong and sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific region. The uncertain global trading environment, including signs of increased protectionist pressures, therefore continues to be a matter of serious concern. We are determined to keep protectionism at bay. The upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference will provide an important opportunity to respond to the situation. In this light, we reaffirmed and extended our commitment through the end of 2015 to refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing WTO-inconsistent measures in all areas, including those that stimulate exports. We also reaffirmed our undertaking to comply with WTO agreements, as well as to continue to ensure transparency and predictability in implementing measures that affect trade and investment. We remain committed to taking steps to roll back protectionist or trade distorting measures introduced during the crisis. Furthermore, we will continue to exercise maximum restraint in implementing measures that may be considered to be consistent with WTO provisions if they have a significant protectionist effect and promptly rectify such measures where implemented.
6. Looking ahead to APEC 2012 under the leadership of the Russian Federation, we look forward to the conclusion of Russia’s WTO accession process at the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference.