Trade Minister Welcomes Progress At Apec Senior Officials Meeting

  • Lockwood Smith

Trade Minister Lockwood Smith has welcomed the outcomes of the second APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM II) which concluded in Christchurch on Friday 7 May 1999. SOM II is one of the key meetings in preparing for the Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) which will be chaired by Dr Smith in Auckland in June.

"New Zealand's themes for APEC 1999 of expanding opportunities for business across the region, strengthening markets and broadening support for APEC received widespread endorsement from APEC members," Dr Smith said.

"It's important to have APEC members agree on the direction of the organisation this year, and it's encouraging to have such strong support for New Zealand's approach as Chair.

Senior officials discussed the 'back six' Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalisation (EVSL) package which is designed to achieve trade liberalisation, facilitation and economic and technical cooperation measures across the automobile, civil aircraft, fertiliser, oilseeds, rubber and foodstuffs sectors.

"The EVSL proposal addresses trade in horticultural products and some processed food products which are obviously important to New Zealand and other APEC economies. I'm pleased officials focussed on this issue, which will be considered by Trade Ministers in June," Dr Smith said.

"SOM II also marked the first meeting of the Taskforce on the APEC Food System. The Food System proposal from the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) covers trade liberalisation and facilitation, technology transfer and technical assistance for developing economies.

"The APEC Food System offers huge potential benefits to all APEC members, both large and small, and developed and developing economies, and I'm pleased to see work on this very important project underway."

"SOM II has advanced some very important issues which will form the agenda of much of APEC's work for the remainder of 1999. I will be meeting with officials early next week to discuss the likely shape of the recommendations to be considered at the June Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade," Dr Smith concluded.