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Clark claims victory at APEC

Published: 7:10PM Sunday November 19, 2006 Source: One News

As the APEC summit in Vietnam draws to a close, Prime Minister Helen Clark is claiming victory after persuading leaders to recognise the issue of climate change in their official closing statement.

The world's largest economies, including the United States and Japan are represented at the 21-nation forum, as well major power brokers such as China and Russia.

But Clark is claiming influence, despite climate change not being officially on the summit's agenda.

"We have been successful in negotiating into the leaders' communique a reference to climate change off the back of the energy issues," she says.

Now, when Australia hosts the summit in 2007, energy ministers from the APEC economies are required to report back on exactly what they are doing to reduce carbon emissions.

APEC's trade goals have also had encouraging words from the US about an APEC-wide free trade agreement.

"We are working with our APEC partners and with you in the business community to promote regional economic integration including the possibility of a free trade area of the Asia Pacific," says US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

But Clark is warning that this won't happen any time soon.

"You've got a lot of less developed economies sitting around the APEC table and in a sense you travel at the pace of the slowest, but there's no doubt it would be significant," she says.

There is, however, good news for New Zealand's agricultural sector after leaders said they were ready to make deeper cuts to farm subsidies.

Disputes over farm subsidies have stymied the Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in July and it is hoped the breakthrough at APEC will help breathe life into global trade talks.