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Issues: Boucher Worldnet Program on APEC Issues, August 26, 1999

BG9914E | Date: 1999-09-13

The meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in New Zealand in early September focuses on economic reform, strengthening markets, and the Year 2000 Problem (Y2K), according to U.S. APEC Coordinator Richard Boucher.

During an August 26 Worldnet "Dialogue" program with participants in Wellington, Beijing, Tokyo, Manila, and Hong Kong, Boucher stressed that strengthening markets is critical to the region's economic recovery efforts.

"I think it is important to remember that the effects of the crisis aren't over, that economic problems remain; employment problems remain," Boucher said. "There's still a need for better restructuring."

"When we talk about strengthening the marketplace, we really mean putting in place the institutions that let competition flourish on a safe and a stable basis," he said. "It's having the right regulations, having the right regulators, having people trained, having rules that are fair for everybody, that don't provide special advantage in one place or somewhere else." The disadvantaged, he emphasized, are the ones "most disadvantaged by favoritism and preferences."

Having stronger markets "helps everybody in these economies and provides new opportunities to get into business, opportunities for entrepreneurs, opportunities for new employment," Boucher said. "The more we can strengthen competition, the more we can build strong market mechanisms, the more that private sector money, that entrepreneurial spirit, those opportunities to create new employment will come out in our economies."

"That's the way to take care of the lingering effects, the ongoing effects of the crisis," he said.

The timing of this year's APEC meetings -- just prior to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial in Seattle -- also provides an opportunity to "give a big push to the next round of WTO negotiations," Boucher said.

"I think APEC has an important role as we start off a new round of trade talks in sending a very strong message to the ministers, the WTO ministers, when they meet in Seattle about what kind of a round we want, what kind of steps we want to take up front," he said.

Boucher stressed that the United States remains "very strongly committed" to bringing China into the WTO on commercially viable terms.

"We don't have any specific arrangements at this point. But I do think, for the United States' part, we very much want to get together (with China) and we want to finish" negotiating an agreement, he said. "We want to strike a good deal ... and get on with having China at the Seattle ministerial and going forward into the WTO," Boucher said.