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'Shanghai accord' sets APEC trade agenda

By Alex Frew McMillan CNN Shanghai

SHANGHAI, China (CNN) -- The leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation signed more than a historic first political agreement on Sunday.

They also put pen to paper on the "Shanghai accord," an agreement the APEC members had been working towards since their trade ministers last met in Shanghai, in June.

The accord was tacked onto the APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration that the 20 leaders signed. It focusses on business, particularly promoting free-trade talks.

A second document contains the APEC Economic Leaders' Statement on Counter-Terrorism, the first non-business declaration in APEC's history.

Jiang briefly touches on terrorism

Chinese President Jiang Zemin, bedecked in a shiny red Chinese jacket and his trademark huge spectacles, spoke in English as he read the two statements.

He praised the Shanghai accord as "forward looking," an agreement that sets APEC's agenda in the coming years.

Jiang actually gave short shrift to terrorism in his 16-minute speech, though that has dominated most of this week's proceedings. Instead he devoted most of his remarks to the need to bolster Asia-Pacific economies.

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War on terror reactions 

They need to remain committed to building "free and open trade," he said, working towards an "open" and "equitable" trading system.

APEC members all need to respond to the downturn," he said. They also need to move forward by promoting "sustainable growth," by boosting global demand and by making sure that all economies, large and small, benefit from globalization.

Countries like Malaysia have voiced their discomfort with globalization this week. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the rich are firmly in control under globalization. Smaller countries must fight for their own good, he said.

In their declaration, the leaders noted that many of them will gather next September in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Before that event, they said they will consider how APEC can contribute to the summit, since it has already done a fair bit of work toward that cause.

Charter idea scrapped

Promoting trade and business is, after all, the raison d'etre of APEC, formed in 1989 to promote trade across the Pacific.

The Shanghai accord signed today had originally been called the "Shanghai charter." But ministers agreed to change the name because the word charter had unintended legal implications.

It attempts to broaden APEC's role, something that this week's terrorism statement has already achieved.

Despite fears anti-terrorism would overshadow this week's events, it has achieved giving them more attention.

APEC business statements are not typically groundbreaking, and today's declaration was no exception. They have tended just to call for greater cooperation and the breaking down of trade tariffs.

The Shanghai accord commits to the "Bogor goals," named for the Indonesian city where they were signed in 1994. Those call for APEC members to reduce trade tariffs to zero by 2010 for developed nations and 2020 for developing ones.

The accord also applauds the Osaka Action Agenda developed earlier this year. It said that agenda should now be broadened, to reflect the sudden slowdown around the world.

And the document calls for a series of meetings in 2002 that will focus on strengthening peer review, adopting trade policies aimed at the New Economy and to facilitate trade.

In the declaration leading into the details of the accord, APEC's leaders welcomed the decision to hold in Mexico a Second Ministerial Meeting on Women next year.

It also stressed the need for a new round of World Trade Organization talks, set for November 9-13. The declaration didn't mention the site, though.

Some of the WTO's 142 members want it moved from Doha, Qatar, its current location, because they are concerned about holding it in the Middle East.

APEC member Singapore has said it could hold the talks as a "spare tire."

The leader's statements mark the end of this year's APEC summit, which started Monday in Pudong, the newly developed commercial district of China's leading business city.

Security precautions

It also ends China's tenure as APEC host, a role it has taken great pride in. Despite at times painfully slow security precautions, the events have not been marred by the protests seen at similar meetings in Seattle, Prague and Genoa.

Mexico is the host of APEC for 2002, followed through 2005 by Thailand, Chile and South Korea.

Only 20 of the 21 APEC members signed this weekend's declarations. Taiwan pulled its delegates after its choice of lead representative was rejected by China.

Taiwan's trade minister signed an earlier economic statement commmiting to lowering tariffs and calling for fresh WTO talks.

APEC's full member list is: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.




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