U.S. Officials To Attend APEC Trade Ministers' Meeting June 1-2

By Susan Krause
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - Deputy U.S. Trade Representatives Susan Schwab and Karan Bhatia will participate in the 12th Meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade, to be held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, June 1 and June 2, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced May 30.

The ministerial gathering will include informal meetings and a formal plenary session, with a ministerial statement to be released June 2.

The meeting will focus on APEC's role in supporting efforts to reach a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO), multilateral negotiations on trade liberalization.

"This week's meeting comes at a crucial period for the WTO negotiations," Schwab said.  "Concluding ambitious WTO negotiations in 2006 is a vital step toward realizing APEC's goal of free and open trade in the region and a critical part of the president's agenda to level the playing field and expand economic opportunities for American farmers, workers and businesses."

Also on the ministerial agenda is a discussion of implementation plans for the free trade and investment goals that were laid out at the November 2005 APEC leaders' meeting in Busan, South Korea.  (See related article.)

The ministers will review an initiative sponsored by the United States and Japan to restrict trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, and will continue to work on the development of regional trade initiatives and free trade agreements.

"Since last year's APEC gathering, the United States has launched free trade agreements with the Republic of Korea and Malaysia and completed a bilateral market access agreement as part of Vietnam's bid to join the WTO," Bhatia said.  "This meeting will advance these and other efforts we are undertaking to build and expand partnerships in the region."

APEC is the primary forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade, and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.  The 21 APEC member economies are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

For more information, see Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and USA and the WTO.

The text of the USTR announcement can be found at the USTR Web site.