Statement on Supporting the Multilateral Trading System and Resisting Protectionism
4-5 June 2012
- We, the APEC Ministers responsible for trade, gathering for our XVIII meeting in Kazan, Russia, reiterate the importance of international trade as a key driver in fostering job creation and increasing the potential for strong, sustainable and balanced growth and development. We recognize the value, centrality and primacy of the multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO.
- We reaffirm that keeping markets open is essential for achieving a sustainable global recovery. Taking into account current uncertainties in the global economy and persistent risks of rising protectionist trends in world trade and investment, we remain firmly committed to keeping protectionism at bay and to continue working on initiatives which can contribute to further trade liberalization. At the same time, we express our deep concern about instances of rising protectionism around the world. We reaffirm the commitment made by our leaders in Honolulu to extend to the end of 2015 their pledge to refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing WTO-inconsistent measures in all areas, including those that stimulate exports. We remain committed to rollback the trade-distorting or protectionist measures introduced since the outset of the crisis and to continue to exercise maximum restraint in implementing measures that may be considered to be consistent with WTO provisions but have a significant protectionist effect and promptly rectify such measures, where implemented.
- We share the view that in the current economic environment the multilateral trading system is more relevant than ever, and emphasize the need to enhance the WTO’s functionality, including the work of the standing WTO bodies which are on the frontline of our efforts to combat protectionism. In this regard, we uphold the inventory and monitoring work of the WTO and other international organizations on trade and trade-related measures and encourage them to reinforce and deepen the work in these areas. We also reaffirm our previous undertaking to comply with WTO agreements, as well as to continue to ensure transparency and predictability in implementing measures that affect trade and investment.
- We welcome the forthcoming accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO, which is a vote of confidence in the multilateral trading system and a valuable input to further strengthening of the WTO.
- We reaffirm that the integration of developing economies into the multilateral trading system is an important task. In this respect, the “Aid for Trade” initiative, as well as other technical assistance and capacity-building activities, including in the APEC region, are important instruments in helping those economies to maximize the benefits of their participation in this system.
- In conformity with the directive given by our leaders in Honolulu, and building on the work from the WTO 8th Ministerial Conference, we discussed the best ways to operationalize its "Elements for Political Guidance" outcome document. While we continue to be disappointed at the impasse in completing all the elements of the Round, our focus in APEC is on the best path forward [towards eventual successful multilateral conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda in accordance with its mandate]. In that context, we discussed productive areas for ongoing technical work, including trade facilitation, as well as LDCs' accessions, as mandated by the WTO 8th Ministerial Conference, and other development-related issues. For issues that appear most intractable, we reaffirmed the instructions to our officials in Geneva to continue exploring different, fresh, and credible negotiating approaches while respecting the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and the importance of the multilateral trading system. As agreed at the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference, [the negotiations should continue based on the progress already made and] the development component of the Doha mandate needs to be fully respected.
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