Washington, D.C., April 22, 2013 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) applauded the push given to progress on international trade talks by trade ministers from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies, saying their call for intensified talks could bear important results at the World Trade Organization’s year-end ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
“APEC ministers have laid down an important challenge to WTO members to make meaningful progress on a Bali package,” said Rob Mulligan, USCIB’s senior vice president for policy and government affairs. “It is now incumbent upon all WTO members to fully re-engage in Geneva, and push toward a balanced and commercially meaningful package of agreements.”
With the Doha Round effectively stalemated, WTO members are currently weighing moving forward on certain negotiating elements, including an agreement on trade facilitation, at the Bali ministerial. Mulligan said it was especially important to harvest results on trade facilitation, which was one of the least contentious elements in the Doha Round. “It is clearly in everyone’s interest to reduce customs costs and delays,” he said.
In their statement, APEC ministers called international trade “the engine of growth, job creation and source of development,” and noted the rise of global value chains in international trade. They said they were “deeply concerned about the state of play” in the WTO and called on WTO members to “change the level and quality of engagement” in order to make progress. The ministers recommended that APEC leaders, at their summit later this year, extend their earlier pledges to resist and roll back protectionist measures through the end of 2016.
Mulligan also cheered the APEC ministers’ call for the swift conclusion of negotiations to expand the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA), under which WTO members have agreed to eliminate import duties on a range of information technology products. He said progress on the ITA was a key element in USCIB’s 2013 trade and investment agenda.
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
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