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Asian, European Leaders Pledge to Deepen Economic Cooperation
    2008-10-26 00:53:37     Xinhua
Asian and European leaders pledged to strengthen economic and development cooperation and coordination, raising capabilities to address various risks and challenges and promote fair and balanced progress of economic globalization.

According to a Chair's Statement issued here on Saturday by the seventh summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), leaders discussed the current international economic and financial situations and recognized that the current global financial crisis has severe impact on the global financial system and world economy. The international community should jointly overcome the financial crisis through enhanced cooperation.

Concerned about the development of the least developed countries, leaders stressed the importance of debt relief and debt sustainability.

Leaders reaffirmed the importance of an open, fair, rule-based and stable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organizations (WTO) to achieve economic growth and development, and to reduce global disparities and trade imbalances, recognizing that such a system is the most effective way in promoting trade liberalization and expanding and diversifying trade relations and increasing economic opportunities among ASEM partners.

Concern over the current situation of the Doha Round negotiations of the WTO was also involved in the Statement. Leaders expressed the conviction that an early and successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda would bring benefits to all members, especially developing and the least developed countries. They remain deeply committed to pushing for successful conclusion of a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced Doha outcome, recognizing the central importance of its development dimension.

Leaders recognized that each country has the primary responsibility for its own development and stressed national development need to be supported by an enabling international economic environment. They called upon all countries to actively implement the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Leaders stressed their commitment to mobilize additional development finance through increased official development assistance (ODA), debt relief, where appropriate, and innovative financing mechanisms towards the attainment of the MDGs.

In the Statement,leaders expressed their concern over fluctuation of commodity prices worldwide especially of oil and food, since they pose a serious challenge to stable growth and cause great difficulties to the life of people in many countries, especially the most vulnerable. They called for strengthened efforts including food aid and social protection activities, and trade facilitation to stabilize the surging food prices quickly, mitigate their impact and help the affected developing countries, especially the least developed countries get through this challenging time. They expressed their commitment to taking joint and comprehensive measures to address the crisis in the medium to the long run, including strengthening policy coordination and cooperation, increasing sustainable input in agricultural production, raising agricultural productivity, in a bid to secure food supply.

Leaders recalled the Hanoi Declaration on a Closer ASEM Economic Partnership (CEP) and reiterated that ASEM partners should strengthen cooperation and join hands to deepen economic partnership, promote open trade and boost two-way investment.

The statement said leaders recognized that, although structural reforms and sound macroeconomic policies have increased the resilience of both Europe and Asia against the global financial turmoil, the global economic slowdown and persistently high commodity prices, both regions are increasingly being affected by the worsening global environment. They agreed that long term stability of the global and regional financial markets is key to sustainable economic growth of both regions.

Leaders agreed on the need to enhance cooperation in the fields of innovation, science, and technology among ASEM partners so as to narrow the digital divide and ensure sustainable development.

Leaders reiterated the importance of closer cooperation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to economic development and job creation.

The Statement said leaders welcomed the recommendations from the 11th Asia-Europe Business Forum on promoting trade and investment between Asia and Europe.
 
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