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APEC report avoids mention of China, Taiwan after clash.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Sept 8 Kyodo

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum has deleted a paragraph in its report calling for the entry of China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization this year after they clashed during APEC's senior officials' meeting Wednesday.

The final revised report on APEC's contribution to the WTO, which is to be presented by senior officials to APEC ministers, who will meet in Auckland on Thursday ahead of the annual informal leaders' summit, no longer contain the paragraph.

A copy of the report, obtained by Kyodo News, merely mentioned that APEC ministers should "encourage an acceleration in the accession negotiations of non-WTO APEC members in accordance with WTO rules, based on commercially viable market-access commitments and a balance of rights and obligations."

Besides China and Taiwan, which is called "Chinese Taipei" within APEC, other APEC members which are trying to gain accession to the WTO are Vietnam and Russia.

The senior officials reached a consensus to mention China and Chinese Taipei specifically in the report during the first day of the senior officials' meeting Tuesday.

But China launched a vitriolic attack on Taiwan on Wednesday when Chinese delegates demanded the report add that China should gain entry into the WTO before Taiwan.

This sparked a row during the meeting, with Taiwan arguing the whole paragraph should be deleted.

"In the first place, we did not like this idea of mentioning the two specifically because there are also other members who are seeking WTO membership," said an official from an Asian country, who asked to remain anonymous.

"Since the two could not even agree on this matter, we just deleted the paragraph," he said, adding that spats between China and Taiwan are "not unusual" during APEC meetings.

The finalized report by the chairman of the senior officials' meeting also mentioned that the agenda for the forthcoming WTO negotiations should be "balanced and sufficiently broad-based to respond to the interests of all economies."

The earlier draft report had used the phrase "a balanced and manageable agenda for the negotiations should be developed." But diplomatic sources said Japan, and most APEC members preferred "broad-based."

It also said the negotiations on the issues agreed at Seattle should be "structured so that the outcomes are finalized, bound and fully implemented as a single package."

The earlier draft said the negotiations should be based on the concept of "a single undertaking."

The report also said senior officials agreed that APEC should strive to obtain "a critical mass of support for its initiative on accelerated tariff liberalization (ATL).

The initiative "should continue to be progressed endeavoring to conclude agreement in the WTO in 1999," it said.

At their meeting in Kuala Lumpur last year, APEC ministers agreed to transfer the first nine sectors under their early voluntary sectoral liberalization scheme to the WTO to broaden participation and seek binding negotiations, and this initiative is called ATL in Geneva.

The report also said that APEC should "pursue an extension to the current moratorium on duties on electronic commerce transactions, to be considered for conclusion at Seattle."

It also sought a decision at Seattle for an agreement on transparency in government procurement.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Sep 13, 1999
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