Foreign and trade ministers from the 21 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on Thursday called for joint efforts to overcome the ongoing global financial crisis and revive the Doha Round trade negotiations.
"The APEC economies are committed to implementing all necessary measures to bolster the real economy and boost investment and consumption levels in the region," said a joint statement released by the ministers after a two-day ministerial meeting in the Peruvian capital.
"Ensuring a rapid, coordinated and effective response to the current global financial crisis is the highest priority for the APEC economies and will be the focus of attention" when the APEC leaders meet on the weekend, said the statement.
The APEC ministers met in Peru during the "most difficult set of economic conditions" since the APEC was created in 1989, it said.
Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belunde, who chaired the meeting, said the ministers have reaffirmed their opposition to trade and investment barriers.
The ministers have agreed to continue to "strengthen consumption level in the region and expand trade activities," he said.
Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean said the APEC ministers not only have reached an consensus to push forward the Doha talks but also agreed on the direction to conclude it.
Crean called on the APEC leaders to make commitment based on the action plan adopted by the G20 countries in Washington earlier this month, noting that nine of the APEC members participated in the Washington meeting.
The G20 leaders called for rejection of protectionism and stronger efforts to finalize modalities of the final agreement on the Doha talks by the end of this year.
"Commitment at various levels" are required to deal with the financial crisis, he said.
U.S. Trade Minister Susan Schwab said world leaders should learn from the Great Depression in the 1930s and prevent a "prolonged and deepening" crisis from taking place.
Schwab noted that the G20 nations had made it clear that trade barriers will not be an option during the crisis and it is vital to conclude the Doha talks as soon as possible.
The world economies should "use trade in a positive way" to avert the crisis, she said.
"We will do everything we can" to push forward the Doha talks, she added.
The Doha talks, which started in 2001, has been deadlocked over the past seven years and repeatedly missed deadlines. The latest setback came in July when WTO trade ministers failed to wrap up the negotiations due to disagreements between the Untied States and India on a special safeguard mechanism for agricultural products of developing countries.
Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said the APEC has yet to confront many challenges but the financial crisis is likely to top the agenda next year when Singapore takes over as its chair.
The 20th APEC Ministerial Meeting started on Wednesday to make final preparations for the APEC Leaders' Meeting this weekend.
A total of 3,600 delegates, including 19 leaders and 55 ministers, from the APEC member economies are expected to attend the Leaders' Week that began on November 16.
Established in 1989, the APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, China's Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2008)