• Kyodo

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Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum have agreed to take concrete measures to realize Japan’s proposal to help developing member economies and relaunch global trade talks, APEC sources said here Saturday.

Senior officials from APEC’s 21 member economies have expressed unanimous support for Japan’s proposal for capacity building to help developing economies implement their World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements at the two-day meeting in Brunei.

Japan has estimated that between $40 million and $50 million will be needed to fund the projects, to come mainly from Japan, other developed member economies and possibly the World Bank, the sources said.

Individual support projects for capacity building will be tailor-made to suit the needs of the developing economies. The program includes measures to boost the infrastructure of developing economies in areas critical for trade, such as customs.

A grouping will be created to manage the program until the APEC leaders’ summit in November, Japanese sources said.

The developing economies will be asked to submit their requirements. Seminars and workshops are also in the offering, while officials from Japan and other developed economies will send experts to help the poorer economies.

Capacity building is one of the four proposals for confidence building that has been floated by Japan to help revive a new round of global trade talks under WTO.

WTO members failed to launch a new round in Seattle last December due partly to wide differences in views between developed and developing nations about trade liberalization.

Japanese International Trade and Industry Minister Takashi Fukaya will formally present the proposals to other APEC ministers for further discussion at their meetings in Darwin, Australia, next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Indonesian delegates were enthusiastic about Japan’s proposal.

“It’s a splendid proposal. We support it as we need to develop our capacity,” said Johan Syahperi, director general for foreign-economic relations.

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.