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APEC Meeting Pushes for Continued Trade Negotiations

Bush calls for an Asia-Pacific free trade area. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

The meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders ended without announcement of major policy changes among APEC members. However, the leaders did say they were ready to make changes in their negotiating positions to help restart world trade talks. They also said North Korea is a major concern, but stopped short of strong condemnation.

This was the fourteenth official meeting of government leaders from economies in East Asia and nations around the Pacific Ocean. The two-day meeting was held in Vietnam, a nation recently admitted to the W.T.O. The meeting ended on November nineteenth.

In a final statement, the leaders expressed a strong desire to continue the Doha series of W.T.O. talks on trade reform. The leaders said they would propose deeper cuts in government aid to farmers. Poor nations say such aid drives down the price of agricultural goods.

The leaders stated they would cut import taxes on industrial goods. They offered to open their markets to more trade in agriculture and services, like banking. APEC urged other countries to join it in offering more trade reforms. APEC agreements do not have the force of law.

President Bush pressed the other leaders on the issue of North Korea's nuclear program. Six-nation talks on the program have not moved forward since last year. The North Korean nuclear test last month has not helped the situation.

Mister Bush urged APEC members to obey United Nations Security Council Resolution Seventeen-Eighteen. That resolution calls for action against North Korea, and urges it to return to the nuclear disarmament talks. All the nations involved in those talks are APEC members, except for North Korea.

The president also proposed a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific as a long-term goal for the group. Mister Bush won a trade agreement with Central American and Caribbean nations last year.

The APEC leaders' meeting was one of several meetings held in Hanoi. Earlier, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice led the American team to the eighteenth APEC Joint Ministerial Meeting. Ministers agreed to push forward with trade reforms known as the Bogor Goals to be completed in five to ten years. They also agreed to cooperate in areas such as security and health.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. I'm Mario Ritter.