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Goff, Sutton to APEC Ministerial Meeting

Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton leave tomorrow for the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok on Friday and Saturday.

The Ministers said this year's APEC meeting had taken on even greater importance following the lack of progress made at the recent WTO talks in Cancun.

"New Zealand is keen to see APEC demonstrating political leadership globally by reaffirming its commitment to the Doha objectives and by helping to reinvigorate the WTO process," the Ministers said in a joint statement.

"Achieving APEC's Bogor goals of regional free trade and investment (by 2010 for industrialised economies and by 2020 for developing economies) is New Zealand's second-highest trade policy priority, behind the eventual success of the WTO Doha round.

"We are also interested in recent developments in APEC free trade agreements and regional trade agreements, and the steps to encourage open comprehensive agreements that build towards trade liberalisation in APEC.

"Another key issue will be terrorism, and its ongoing threat to regional economic growth and prosperity. Terrorism is a major threat to security and stability in the region. Its human costs were clearly visible in last year's Bali bombing. The cost of counter-terrorism measures is also a particular concern to the export business community.

"APEC has proved to be responsive to new regional issues in the past and this year it faced up to the SARS challenge. Shaping APEC so it continues to meet regional development challenges and stays relevant for members is an important issue for New Zealand," the Ministers said.

The Ministers also have busy bilateral schedules during their two-day visit to Bangkok. Mr Goff will meet with counterparts from Australia, Korea, Peru, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam while Mr Sutton meets trade ministers from Chile, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Korean, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, and Thailand.

The Ministerial meeting precedes the two-day APEC Leaders' Meeting, which starts on Sunday. Prime Minister Helen Clark will be attending.




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