1. We, the ASEAN Economic Ministers express our deep concern and disappointment on the suspension of the Doha negotiations in July 2006 because of divergences in positions on key issues of domestic support and market access in agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA). This suspension has systemic implications on the efficacy of the multilateral trading system and its ability to continue to deliver key benefits in terms of trade liberalisation in goods and services. The multilateral trading system cannot afford a “failure” of the Doha negotiations.
2. As a group of developing countries with open economies, ASEAN attaches great importance to the Doha negotiations in contributing towards strengthening the multilateral trading system. It is also critical to the continuing economic growth and development of our Member countries. A successful Round in particular will benefit developing countries and least developed countries by ensuring market access through reductions in tariffs, trade-distorting domestic subsidies and trade barriers. We seek that WTO Members continue efforts to make progress on the triangle of issues to enable negotiations to be resumed. ASEAN urges that these differences be addressed expeditiously if there is to be a successful resumption and conclusion to the negotiations.
3. Many WTO Members have since expressed their wish for the negotiations to resume as soon as possible. ASEAN believes that WTO Members must put the process back on track before the end of 2006, and recognise that necessary breakthroughs in critical negotiating areas of Agriculture and NAMA are needed. To this end, all WTO Members must be prepared to review and make necessary adjustments in positions to enable objectives of the negotiations to be achieved.
4. On ASEAN’s part, we are prepared to make our own contribution to ensure a meaningful and substantial outcome to the negotiations that will allow economies to prosper and develop. In particular, ASEAN attaches importance to the development dimension of the negotiations, including the strengthening of Special and Differential Treatment provisions as embodied in the Doha Ministerial Declaration and the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration, which should form an integral part of the outcome of the negotiations. We are committed to work towards an agreement with a view to making those provisions operational and effective.
5. ASEAN calls upon the major players to show requisite leadership and the political will needed to bring the Round to a successful conclusion. We are ready to contribute and work closely with our Dialogue Partners and WTO Members to achieve this paramount objective of concluding the negotiations, through a transparent and inclusive process, and upholding and safeguarding the integrity of the multilateral trading system for the benefit of all.
6. Issued on 23 August 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.