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APEC adrift.



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APEC Adrift Peter Cook - Shadow Minister for Trade

Media Statement - 8 June 2000

The inability of the APEC Trade Ministers' meeting to agree upon a common strategy for world trade reform is a failure of leadership by the Howard Government, Shadow Trade Minister, Senator Peter Cook, said today.

"With 55% of world GDP, APEC has the potential to act as a powerful ginger group within the WTO," Senator Cook said.

"Yet if APEC is to break the deadlock that developed at Seattle, it must agree upon a common negotiating strategy. The Darwin meeting utterly failed to resolve these differences between APEC members.

"It is a mark of how far we have fallen that Trade Minister Mark Vaile has now resorted to living off Labor's trade successes. His recently released document, APEC: A Decade of Progress, catalogues achievements that flow from the hard work done prior to 1996.

"Then in Darwin, he claimed credit for the elimination of Korean beef quotas by 2001 -a decision that was in fact taken in 1993.

"Minister Vaile is fast becoming the Minister for Trade History. As for the present, his strategic nous and ability to drive the organisation forward was demonstrated when he told the media:

'Look, I think that we - Minister will leave this meeting feeling very strong in their convictions that in the different opportunities that we - will be presented to us in different fora between now and the end of this year at least, that we have now a commitment in the year 2000, post-Seattle, from the APEC group, to get on with the agenda, and we will all be using every - all our endeavours to see that eventuate.' (Doorstop interview, 6.8.00, Official Transcript)

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The Howard Government's failure to push reform through APEC is a blow for everyday Australian families. Less trade-driven growth means a chance missed for stronger farms and firms, and for more high-wage, high-skill jobs for Australians.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.