20 Nov 2008

APEC to push trade as way out of crisis

5:43 pm on 20 November 2008

APEC countries on Wednesday lent their support to proposals from the world's biggest economies, the G20, aimed at tackling the global financial crisis.

Leaders from the 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation economies, including New Zealand, the United States, Russia, Japan and China are meeting in the Peruvian capital Lima.

Growing threats of a world recession topped the agenda for the ministers who met for talks on Wednesday ahead of the leaders' summit at the weekend. The heads of state will issue a statement on the international financial crisis on Sunday.

In Washington last weekend, leaders of the world's biggest economies, the G20, called for rapid economic stimulus packages to stabilise financial markets and to make one more push for a global free trade deal before the end of this year.

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said APEC ministers determined that the world should resist the forces of protectionism and restarting the Doha trade talks, which stalled in July, would boost economic growth through trade.

New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser, a former negotiator for the World Trade Organisation, called on the ministers to push officials to match their political rhetoric and work constructively for a resolution to the Doha round.

Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says WTO director-general Pascal Lamy will decide this week whether the prospects for progress in talks is strong enough to call a meeting of trade ministers in Geneva in December.

Mr McCully says ministers agreed that a deal to cut farm subsidies and tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods was one of the best ways to boost trade and help stave off a deep recession in the world economy.

He said ministers also resolved to boost the amount of cash circulating in the world economy but have to draw up more specific means on how to do this.

The idea of an Asian development or monetary fund to rival the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank using huge cash surpluses from Asian countries was discussed at a very general level, he said.

Mr McCully said the ministers also gave estimates of their prospects for growth in 2009, which did not dramatically contradict recent forecasts by the New Zealand Treasury.