Vol. 5 Num 479 Fri. September 30, 2005  

Asean calls on WTO to implement Doha agreement in Hong Kong

Southeast Asian economic ministers Thursday called on World Trade Organisation (WTO) members to implement the Doha agreement when they gather in Hong Kong later this year.

In a statement issued on the sidelines of an Asean conference here, the ministers said it was important the multilateral trade talks regain momentum and reach an accord.

The 10-member Association of South East Asian nations (Asean) also pledged "strong support to establish the full modalities in agriculture."

"With the developed countries being more conscious of the needs of developing countries there is great opportunity to make Hong Kong a success," they said.

The ministerial meeting of 148 WTO members on December 13-18 is meant to set the seal on four years of talks launched in the Qatari capital Doha that aim to deliver a comprehensive treaty for free trade by 2006.

The talks ran into a deep impasse in the Mexican beach resort of Cancun in 2003, mainly owing to differences over farm trade and market access for services, and negotiators have been struggling since to get them back on track.

The United States, European Union and a handful of other key players from the WTO are to meet next month in Switzerland to try to keep talks on a treaty liberalising global commerce on track.

Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and is aiming to create a fully integrated economic community by 2020.