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APEC trade ministers fail to agree on multilateral trade system

PORT MORESBY (Kyodo) -- Trade ministers from 21 Pacific Rim economies concluded talks in the south Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea on Saturday, but failed to reach a consensus on the issue of a multilateral trading system.

Following the two-day gathering of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the ministers released a joint statement covering key discussion areas including promoting the digital economy and deepening regional economic integration.

However, the ministers struggled to agree on the issue of a multilateral trading system as embodied in the World Trade Organization.

As a result, the APEC chairman, Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Rimbink Pato, released a separate statement reflecting his assessment of the prevailing views of APEC economies.

"We underscore that trade liberalization and facilitation are essential for achieving sustainable global growth and remain committed to continuing APEC's leadership to promote free and open markets," said the statement.

"We therefore reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open, and to fight against and to roll back protectionist and trade distorting measures, and we reaffirm our leaders' pledge to extend the standstill commitment until the end of 2020."

Both statements will be put to APEC leaders for their consideration ahead of their summit in November, also to be held in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby.

APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

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