The US has proposed a reduction in agricultural tariffs and subsidies that Bush said would eliminate barriers over 15 years. The European Union, reigned in by France, rejected the US proposal and instead offered other reductions. Both the US and Europe are looking for concessions from Asian nations on services and industrial goods. At stake is about $300 billion in trade, according to Myron Brilliant, vice-president for Asia at the US Chamber of Commerce.
If the Apec economies cant collectively come up with forward movement on trade and open markets, that would be unfortunate for the global trading system, Brilliant said in an interview at the Apec talks.
Its absolutely critical for the leaders of these 21 countries to come out with a very strong statement on trade.
Apecs 21 members account for almost half of all worlds trade. Yesterday in Japan Bush said the group can use its influence to push for an ambitious result in trade talks that are foundering ahead of a World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong next month.
Bush met with South Korea Prime Minister Roh Moo-Hyun today in Gyeongju and will attend a summit of APEC leaders tomorrow.
Apec ministers said on Wednesday in a meeting with WTO Director- General Pascal Lamy in Busan that the talks would collapse unless the EU offers to make bigger cuts in agricultural subsidies and allow more access to its markets. Lamy is returning to Geneva where he is trying to draft a document on the parameters of negotiations on tariffs.