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APEC pushes to revive WTO talks

APEC leaders continued their tradition of a
APEC leaders continued their tradition of a "class photo" in attire provided by the host country.

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• Special report: APEC 2003 
GDP growth forecast 2003
Australia 3.0 percent
Brunei 3.0
Canada 2.2
Chile 3.5
China 8.0
Hong Kong 2.1
Indonesia 3.4
Japan 0.8
Malaysia 4.1
Mexico 2.5
New Zealand 2.2
Papua New Guinea 1.5
Peru 4.0
Philippines 4.0
Russia 6.0
Singapore 0.5
South Korea 3.1
Taiwan 3.1
Thailand 6.0
United States 3.0
Vietnam 6.9
Sources: ADB, HSBC

(CNN) -- APEC leaders have agreed to revive the global trade liberalization talks that collapsed in the Mexican resort town of Cancun last month.

Those talks, part of the Doha round of negotiations being held under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, failed because of differences between rich and poor nations over issues that included agricultural access and investment.

The 21 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum between them account for almost half the world's trade.

In their final communique released Tuesday, the 21 leaders attending the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand, directed their negotiators to go back to work on the text they left behind in September.

APEC's twin goals are for completely free trade and investment among its developed members by 2010 and among its developing nations by 2020. Those goals were established at the 1994 summit in Bogor, Indonesia.

On Tuesday, the 21 leaders said APEC's vision was "achieving stability, security and prosperity for our peoples."

They said that to achieve that vision, they agreed to strengthen their partnership to liberalize and facilitate regional trade and investment, and also to protect their societies against threats to their security, "while preparing them to benefit fully from free and open trade."

The leaders reaffirmed the primacy of the multilateral trading system and agreed that the Doha round "offers the potential for real gains for all economies, particularly developing economies."

Referring to a compromise text drafted in Cancun by Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez, they agreed to "re-energise the negotiation process, building on Chairman Debrez's text of 13 September, 2003, recognizing that flexibility and political will are urgently needed to move the negotiations toward a successful conclusion."

In a bid to attract more investment capital to Asia, the leaders also agreed to do more to combat corruption and to "promote transparency" in public financial management.

Between them, the APEC economies have gross domestic product of more than $18 trillion, accounting for 60 percent of global GDP. They also handle 47 percent of world trade.

APEC includes five of the world's top 10 economies: The United States, Japan, China, Canada and Mexico, plus another four in the top 20 -- South Korea, Australia, Russia and Taiwan.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad earlier had complained that security issues were diverting attention from economic problems.

APEC members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, United States and Vietnam.

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