Trade Ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum’s countries underlined the importance of stepping up trade within the region to cope with spreading protectionism amidst the global economic downturn.

The agreement was reached at the 18th Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT 18), held in Kazan , Russia , on June 4-5, 2012. The Vietnamese delegation was led by the Minister for Industry and Trade, Vu Huy Hoang.

The MRT 18 met at a time when the global economy still faces many challenges, including the Eurozone debt crisis, the slow recovery of big economies like the United States , Japan and the stalled Doha negotiations.

In this context, APEC’s Trade Ministers focused on finding ways to push the Doha round of negotiations and fight protectionism. Strengthening regional economic integration, cooperating on food security, creating reliable chains of supply and spontaneous creative growth were also suggested.

The Ministers agreed to support a multilateral trade agreement and guard against protectionism, saying that APEC economies will continue with their efforts to fight protectionism.

At the meeting, Vietnam ’s delegation worked with the Republic of Korea to put forward initiatives to improve the negotiating skills of APEC member countries.

On the sidelines of the MRT 18 meeting, Minister Hoang attended the ministerial meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership member countries to discuss ways of speeding up negotiations and the administration of new members.

He also met with other ministers and the delegation heads of APEC member countries including Russia , the US , Australia , Canada , New Zealand , the RoK, Mexico and Japan . Their talks were mainly related to Free Trade Agreements and more cooperation in trade and industry.-VNA