Its a real pleasure
to be able to talk to you today, during this historically important series of meetings in
Auckland. I want to associate myself with the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley,
and her comments of support for APEC and your participation.
pleased because Im a New Zealander who attended the first APEC ministers
meeting in Canberra 10 years ago. One of the reasons why that meeting was important was
because it broke new ground which allowed China, Hong Kong China and Chinese Taipei to
later sit around the same table. Ten years later their participation in APEC has become
routine. What was headline making and radical a decade ago is routine today and we very
much hope this will smooth the way for China joining us at the WTO family table.
Ten years on,
APEC has undergone a remarkable development, deepening and broadening of its agenda and
There are now
21 members of APEC, and APECs achievements in the past decade have far exceeded the
expectations that we held for it in the beginning. However, more recently, our region has
gone through the greatest economic reversal in 50 years.
crisis was real, is real, as is the recovery.
those who make a living out of predicting gloom, some even seemed to enjoy it, suggesting
this was the end. Remember the headlines? But it did not signify an end to multilateralism
and openness, nor did it prove that the system failed. It proved the opposite; it proved
how resilient the system is. South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, among others, not
only kept their markets open, they introduced further liberalization measures.
APECs great contributions has been in establishing the climate for openness, and in
the main, leaders and governments stood firm, learnt the lessons and started rebuilding.
They resisted the pressures to revert to protectionism. We know those policies prolonged
and made the Great Depression so much deeper, and from this the twin tyrannies of fascism
and Marxism arose.
and I talked before I left New Zealand about whether APEC was an economic, political or
moral issue. I think its all those things. Its not complicated. Its
about getting more customers. Its about whether or not we run the world based on the
civilised order of rules, or force. Whether we settle our differences by process, or
force, persuasion or coercion. Of course its imperfect and it can be improved.
All of that
can be said about the WTO, too.
that APEC and regionalism are in contradiction to the WTO and multilateralism. One trade
expert once said that regional arrangements were like street gangs, not nice, but if you
live in the neighbourhood you had better join up.
agree. Open regionalism can give impetus to the best option, multilateralism. It gives
smaller countries the opportunity to learn the political, economic and business skills
necessary to engage further.
does sometimes reflect the lack of satisfaction with the progress of the multilateral
shown us that open societies do better. Thats true. Our region testifies to this
ago 70 per cent of Indonesians lived in what the World Bank called extreme poverty.
Now, despite the recent problems, the figure is 10 per cent.
admire at what Japan has delivered to its people from the rubble and ruin of the 1940s.
Now its the second most powerful economy in the world, and a constructive force for
good in the world.
number of APEC projects are gradually having their impact. One is the removal of red tape
and other obstacles to trade, in an exercise that our experts like to call "trade
facilitation". You out there in APEC are many steps ahead of us here in the World
Trade Organization where "trade facilitation" is still a new discussion topic.
important exercise. The APEC Economic Committee estimated a couple of years ago that trade
facilitation could save 45 billion dollars, more than the gains expected from
APECs trade liberalization.
other regional organizations are extremely helpful to the WTO. Many ideas which eventually
reach the WTO have been developed in regional groups. The debates that these ideas arouse
in the groups are rehearsals for the discussions in the WTO. And this years agenda
in Auckland deliberately focuses on important WTO work ahead.
an important point that Id like to emphasize today. Id also like to turn it
into a kind of challenge a challenge to you, the chief executives and leaders of
a direct link between APEC and the WTO, between Auckland and Seattle. In less
than three months time, discussions, similar to those you and your government
counterparts have been having in Auckland, are going to take place in Seattle, but among
people from a much larger group of countries the over-130 members of the WTO. Some
of you will also be in Seattle. What youve been saying to each other here is very
important for what happens in Seattle.
business leaders, are among the people best placed to explain to the wider public why the
WTO system and the coming negotiations are so important. You are best placed to point out
to your workforces how many of your jobs are sustained by exports and, lets face it,
by the ability to import.
also best placed to ensure that there is a healthy domestic and international dialogue
about what should be negotiated, and what realistically can be expected among all the
conflicting positions. We ought to celebrate that the last 50 years have been, in the
main, a time of peace and progress. Perhaps because its obvious, we dont
repeat this old truth. We need to remind our constituents, workers and shareholders, that
were talking about jobs and growth: that one in three jobs in New Zealand and one in
three new jobs in the United States are created from exports. We all need affluent
customers. In an age of dramatic change and uncertainty, workers and their families too
often fear the future. The future is to be faced, not feared.
remind workers and their families that profit is not a dirty word. The best guarantee of
job security is profit and a healthy balance sheet.
Alas, as I
found in Government, you cannot tax losses (actually I found it hard to tax profits). But
if we are to pay for our dreams by investing more in education and health, we need, first,
healthy companies. There have been many ideas of what to call the new round, the
Millennium Round, the Development Round, the Seattle Round. Whatever its called, it
must be a jobs round.
Let me be
clear. Im not asking you to push the particular interests of your particular
companies. I know youll do that anyway Thats your job! Rather, Im asking
you to be champions of the system, to spread the message in a way that addresses
the many varied and legitimate public concerns that the system can be beneficial
for everyone, and to ensure that no one misses out on the benefits. What we do in APEC and
the WTO is about giving people the gift of opportunity.
brings net benefits, but there are also some losers among the many winners. If
youve had to face competition from imports on your own turf, youll understand
that well. You know the answer doesnt lie in protectionism, in blocking out
competition, but in adjustment and in helping the weak to adjust. Its the
responsibility of those who gain from liberalization to ensure that no one is left on the
margins, either within our countries or in the community of nations.
youre from the richer members of APEC you can use all your lobbying skills to ensure
that your politicians support proposals to allow duty-free imports from least developed
countries a small move in your countries it represents just 0.5 per cent
of world trade, but one of immense significance for the worlds poorest exporters,
because not all our critics are wrong, not all have the equal gift of opportunity.
geography have been tyrants. A recent UNCTAD report says that in one African country the
government spends up to nine times more servicing its debts than it does on health
and thats in the middle of an AIDS epidemic.
immensely important for me. The WTO has 134 members. Many of them cannot even afford to
have representatives in Geneva. One of the first tasks Ive set myself is to ensure
that these least developed countries are not left out. With better information,
opportunity and goodwill, these least developed countries can genuinely participate in
negotiations and other WTO business, thus share in what the world has to offer.
planned a number of initiatives, which we will introduce in the coming days and weeks,
which are designed to bring the Least Developed Countries, more fully into the
Multilateral Trading System. These initiatives are modest, but important contributions,
and we fully realize that trade alone is not the answer to the complex problems of these
nations. But working together with other organizations, the IMF, UNCTAD, the World Bank
and others, we can address more completely the problems they face.
You, too, can
play your part. This is not just a moral obligation. Its self-interest. Between us,
by ensuring that no one is left out, we strengthen the system and expand opportunities for
my challenge. Thank you for listening. And now for your questions.