A firm commitment from Pacific-rim leaders to fast-track global free-trade talks is a welcome boost for the faltering world economy, Prime Minister John Key says.
Key was one of 21 leaders at the Apec summit in Peru to sign a declaration pledging to act “quickly and decisively” to overcome the global financial crisis within 18 months.
Key said he was satisfied with the final communique, which included an agreement by leaders to send their foreign ministers to Geneva next month in a bid to re-start the stalled Doha Round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks.
“I think it reflects the desire to show real leadership,” he said.
“I don’t think we should underestimate the challenges that still remain to achieve a successful Doha Round, but from New Zealand’s point of view there are enormous gains to be made if that can be achieved and it’s a step in the right direction that such a positive communique was released.”
He said the onus was now on all leaders to make sure their ministers and officials carried through on their words.
Key welcomed additional commitments to pursue stimulatory fiscal policies and to avoid erecting new trade barriers in the aftermath of the global market meltdown, regardless of domestic political pressure.
The statement also said leaders were deeply concerned about instability in food prices, were committed to battling corruption and piracy, and supported “decisive and effective long-term cooperation” to combat climate change.
Key met US President George W Bush and China’s President Hu Jintao at the summit.
President Bush congratulated him on his election win, and President Hu invited him to visit China.
Key said he left the Bush meeting confident the NZ-US relationship was in good shape and hopeful the new administration led by President-elect Barack Obama would continue steps to join the Trans-Pacific trade agreement of which New Zealand is a part.
Key held formal bilateral meetings with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
He also held short informal meetings with Japan’s prime minister Taro Aso, Korean president Lee Myung-Bak and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
From the Peruvian capital Lima, Key is going to London where he will meet the Queen, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other political leaders before coming home.
Key said the Queen’s presence at a giant rugby ball publicising the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand would be a huge promotional opportunity for the country.
In his meeting with Brown, he was likely to give the British prime minister a debrief of the Apec summit, which Britain is not a part of. In turn Brown would brief him on the most recent meeting of the powerful G-20 group of nations.