APEC closes in Sydney

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Leaders present their final declaration at the APEC meeting in Sydney.
Image: APEC 2007 Taskforce..
Australian PM John Howard announces the APEC leader's final declaration at the APEC meeting in Sydney.
Image: APEC 2007 Taskforce..

APEC Australia 2007 has officially closed in Sydney, with Australian Prime Minister John Howard delivering APEC's final declaration. The final leader's declaration said that APEC member economies will support the Doha trade talks and that the leaders examined a series of measures to deal with terrorism, pandemics, contaminated food, energy security and natural disasters.

Mr Howard said that the APEC members had decided to make "An urgent request to all countries involved in the Doha process to renew their efforts to achieve an outcome, emphasizing that agriculture and industrial products are the two priority areas".

The leaders wish for Doha to enter its final phase this year. Talks have been stalled due to disagreements between the European Union and United States over subsidies and tariffs for the agricultural sector.

A plan by the United States to establish an APEC free trade zone received a mixed reception with some members believing that such a move would weaken the group's commitment to the Doha round. They did agree that if the WTO's Doha talks were not completed by the end of the year, the APEC zone would be examined.

Speaking to CNBC, the head of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy said that negotiations taking place in Geneva were making progress.

"There is a strong sense that it is a make-or-break moment. It may take a few weeks, but my sense is that there is a lot of focus and energy," Mr Lamy said.

In the area of health, the final declaration also promised to share influenza samples and provide equitable access to vaccines. Security related issues were a commitment to rooting out terrorism and a recognition of the danger proliferation of weapons of mass destruction poses to the region.

Despite interest from India and Pakistan in joining the group, it was announced that additional members will be considered in 2010.

The final declaration also reaffirmed the Sydney Declaration on climate change, which had been agreed upon on Saturday.