Thursday, October 15, 2009

APEC Business Advisory Council supports a conclusion of the Doha Round but warns of risks to WTO's relevance

Issued by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC)

Geneva, Switzerland, 14 October 2009 - The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has warned that business interest in the multilateral process is waning and that the WTO may be perceived as less relevant, if a conclusion to the Doha Round is further delayed.

Earlier this week, ABAC members met with WTO Ambassadors and Director-General Pascal Lamy in Geneva, to express their support for a rapid conclusion of Doha and to convey their strong belief in the primacy of the multilateral trading system.

While business generally supports the multilateral process and the WTO, explains Tony Nowell, ABAC Liberalization Working Group Chairman, scepticism has been steadily rising because of the widening gap between rhetoric and action.

Conversely, he says, support has been growing for the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).  APEC Leaders have instructed officials to develop specific recommendations for moving forward on an FTAAP, an idea espoused by ABAC since 2006.

“While an FTAAP and the WTO are not incompatible – both will go on regardless of the outcome of Doha – it does take away focus on the Doha Round and forces business to adapt to new challenges that the WTO has yet to consider. There is real danger that the WTO’s relevance may be questioned if it is not in a position to have any influence on these issues – particularly now that the supply chain business model has become the norm.”

According to Teng Theng Dar, Chairman of ABAC 2009, the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Singapore in November may be a golden opportunity to declare a commitment to complete the Round on time, given the presence of Leaders of economies that account for almost half the world’s trade and including the USA, China and Japan.   

“With the global economic recovery still fragile and business and consumer confidence still unstable, any signal, whether positive or negative, is going to be magnified in its impact. It is therefore critical that the news coming out of Geneva be positive.”

The message that ABAC heard in Geneva is generally positive, he explains, but not without caution:

“We are told that completion of the Round by 2010 is indeed possible but that several things will have to happen within a relatively short period of time. In terms of the process itself, all technical issues should be settled by late this year. On the substantive issues of the negotiations, it seems that movement from the major players – particularly the USA – is key to progress.”

Incoming ABAC Chair Gempachiro Aihara, said that the while the new Japanese government has yet to unveil its economic and trade policies, past experience suggests that these policies will favour positive engagement with the global economy. He expressed optimism that, as host of APEC in 2010, Japan will take a leading role in achieving progress in both APEC and the WTO.

ABAC was created by APEC Leaders to provide a business perspective on regional economic integration. Members are appointed by the Leaders of each APEC member economy.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Martin Yuoon, ABAC Executive Director 2009 at (+65) 6827 6886 or at

Mr. Antonio Basilio, ABAC Secretariat (+63-2) 845 4564 or at

Ms. Tran Bao Ngoc, APEC Secretariat (+65) 6891 9616 or at



1 comment:

  1. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks Business Advisory