Japan will propose market-liberalization talks in seven industrial sectors, including environment-related equipment and services, transport machinery and film, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, government officials said July 14.

Japan also plans to propose talks on liberalizing the scientific equipment, chemical equipment and investment sectors July 15 for the 18 APEC economies, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier this year, the APEC economies set a July 15 deadline to submit their respective proposals for market-reform talks in specific industrial sectors.

The United States, the staunchest proponent of such talks at APEC, is expected to propose negotiations for areas including environment-related equipment and automobiles, the officials said. Australia wants talks in the energy sector, the officials added.

APEC will discuss all proposals from its members at the next meeting of its senior officials, scheduled for the end of August in Newfoundland, the officials said. The meeting is to prepare for the fifth annual summit of APEC leaders in November in Vancouver, British Columbia.

When APEC’s trade ministers met in Montreal in May, they agreed to explore the development of new sector-based liberalization accords, following the pattern set with last year’s information technology agreement, commonly known as ITA. APEC’s support of ITA ahead of its formalization in December at the first ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization was seen as crucial. ITA, which so far has been signed by some 40 economies, calls for elimination of import tariffs on such items as computers and semiconductors by 2000 for industrialized economies and by 2005 for developing economies.

Sectoral liberalization is expected to be the main topic, along with a review of APEC’s individual action plans, at the APEC leaders’ summit in November. It remains uncertain whether any agreement will be reached on talks in specific areas.

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