Asia-Pacific Chiefs to Urge Resumption of WTO Talks

HANOI, Vietnam ~  Asia-Pacific business executives will this week call on world leaders at a Hanoi summit to kick-start stalled global trade talks and tackle volatile energy prices, a Vietnamese industry leader said.

The members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) will also on Saturday detail their worries over the proliferation of free trade deals in the region, said the council’s current chair, Hoang Van Dung.

ABAC is a high-powered gathering of business leaders advising heads of state and government from the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, who will convene in the Vietnamese capital at the weekend.

“We will discuss what we are going to say to them, but mainly it will be about the Doha development round, the numbers of FTAs and RTAs and the energy sector,” Dung told AFP, referring to bilateral and regional free trade deals.

“Oil prices are going up and it will affect businesses and the ease of doing business,” added Dung, who is vice chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In their annual report completed last month, the industry chiefs warned that skyrocketing energy prices, supply disparities and slow progress in developing alternative fuels would have an adverse impact on APEC member economies.

ABAC also criticized the burgeoning number of free trade agreements without any effort at harmonization, saying they were “adding to the costs and complexities of doing business.”

The group also said it was “deeply disappointed” over the suspension of the World Trade Organization’s so-called Doha round of negotiations launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 and deadlocked since July.

APEC leaders are expected to issue a statement calling for a resumption of talks, and Dung said business leaders would be looking for a “strong message to the world that the APEC leaders are committed to the Doha negotiations.”

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