The Office of the United States Trade Representative

USTR Zoellick to Attend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Meeting in Khon Kaen
Contact: Richard Mills, Ricardo Reyes | (202) 395-3230 05/31/2003

WASHINGTON - United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will join his counterparts from the Pacific region at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Khon Kaen, Thailand on June 2 - 3. Zoellick will discuss with his ministerial colleagues ways to promote trade liberalization regionally and globally, particularly with the ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) trade negotiations. Prior to the first session, Zoellick will meet with the Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, to discuss a range of economic issues.

"More open trade and investment will promote hope and opportunity, and increase the standards of living for hundreds millions of people around the Pacific Rim," Zoellick stated. "This meeting represents an important opportunity for a collective gathering of Asia-Pacific Trade Ministers before the 5th WTO Ministerial in Cancun later this year. This APEC meeting provides an opportunity to shape a shared vision for advancing regional trade, and achieve a positive outcome in Cancun."

At the conclusion of the APEC meetings on June 3, Zoellick will meet with Thai Minister of Commerce Adisai Bodharamik to discuss bilateral and multilateral trade issues under the U.S.-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Zoellick's meeting with Adisai is intended to advance the President=s Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI), which offers the prospect of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) between the United States and countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) that are WTO members and have signed a TIFA with the United States. Progress in addressing bilateral trade issues under these TIFAs will allow for both countries to enter FTA negotiations with greater confidence that we can conclude them successfully.

The United States and each ASEAN partner would jointly determine if and when they are ready to launch FTA negotiations. Under the EAI, the United States is working with Thailand and other ASEAN members to expand trade and investment liberalization and lay the groundwork for possible free trade agreements.

The theme for APEC this year is "A World of Differences: Partnership for the Future." Zoellick noted that this theme is consistent with the diversity of APEC's members, and the need to work collectively to create an open global trading system. The group also plans to take a close look at efforts to implement important APEC agreements on trade facilitation, transparency, and trade and the digital economy.

During the APEC meeting, Zoellick will meet separately with some of the 20 other APEC members, which are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.