|Alan Bollard, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, receives an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, on Dec. 5, 2013. The World Trade Organization (WTO) might seek to achieve limited trade deals in future if the WTO Ministerial Conference underway in Bali fails to reach a deal to revive the Doha Round talks, a top official from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum said here Thursday. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)
by Chen Yongrong
BALI, Indonesia, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The World Trade Organization (WTO) might seek to achieve limited trade deals in future if the WTO Ministerial Conference underway in Bali fails to reach a deal to revive the Doha Round talks, a top official from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum said here Thursday.
"What we are expecting is not a very big change," said Alan Bollard, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference.
The four-day conference, which is set to conclude Friday, was aimed at reviving the long-stalled Doha Round with consensus on a trade package on agriculture, development and trade facilitation, but lingering difficulties over certain issues have cast doubt on a successful outcome.
Expectations were for a rather limited sort of package, which should help world trade in the long run, said Bollard.
The aim of the Doha Round of trade talks, launched in 2001, is to create a wide-ranging accord to open markets and remove trade barriers, with a focus on helping poorer countries. The WTO has since significantly lowered its sights following repeated failures to produce an agreement.
Failure to reach a "high-quality package" would cast a shadow on the future of the 159-member global organization.
"The focus of a lot of people will actually turn away from the WTO on to some of these mega regional trade negotiations," he said, noting that an overall agreement on multilateral trade had not been reached in the organization's 20-year history.
Bollard said he expected the WTO to reduce expectations in future, putting more focus on limited areas of liberalization, such as the information technology agreement, and services negotiations, which might extend to only some of the 159 members.
"That's just more realistic," he said.
Bollard also suggested that WTO could draw from some of APEC's experiences, and the way that APEC had moved over the years to adapt to changing trade conditions.
APEC had a number of technical bodies that were working through technical realities, which helped with communication between customs officers, quarantine departments and security agencies to agree on tariff and logistical standards.
The organization had already completed its information technology agreement and an environment goods list, which boosted trade between its member economies.
East Asia had led the way in trade liberalization, he said.
APEC would continue to adapt to changes in the global economy since the global financial crisis, such as a slowdown in trade growth and quantitative easing in some major markets, said Bollard.
He said he expected to see more work on economic integration, strengthening connectivity and infrastructure development, and promoting a better quality of growth within the region at next year's APEC summit in Beijing.
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