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Wednesday, June 23, 1999


East-West Center
to host trade meet

The July conference
will allow private talks

By Russ Lynch
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

The East-West Center will host senior government officials and nongovernment trade experts from Asia, the Pacific and the United States for a July 1-3 meeting that officials hope will help solve new trade problems that are arising as Asia recovers from its financial crisis.

The conference, "Asia Pacific Trade in the Post-Crisis Era," will bring together representatives from Japan, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Australia and the United States for informal discussions.

"There's a dearth of these kinds of informal get-togethers," where mutual concerns over trade matters can be talked out thoroughly outside the stuffy and official environment of formal trade talks, said conference coordinator Michael Delaney, East-West Center diplomat in residence.

The sessions are open to the public but there also will be opportunities for those taking part to have private talks.

"We feel there's a potential for significant issues to come up here that people can discuss in private," said Charles E. Morrison, East-West Center president.

Delaney said the timing of the conference is significant because the international representatives will come to Honolulu right after the trade ministers of the 21 APEC countries (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meet in New Zealand at the end of this month. It is also before the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting to be held in Seattle in November.

Center officials said the U.S. delegation will be led by Donald Phillips, assistant U.S. trade representative for Asia and APEC.

Key issues to be discussed will include the changing trade patterns of the Asia-Pacific region, the impact of the Asian financial crisis on trade policies, and how regional and global institutions reacted to the crisis.

Also up for discussion is the rise of protectionist sentiment and how that affects trade within the Asia-Pacific region and with the United States.

Delaney said the intent is to come out with viable policy recommendations at the end of the three-day meeting, to be followed up with a more-detailed report in September.

Delaney and Morrison were among officials who discussed Asia-Pacific economic issues in a East-West luncheon briefing for media representatives earlier this week. Panelists discussed a number of changes that indicate that Asia's economies are recovering.

"This crisis is over," said Muthiah Alagappa, East-West Center director of studies. "We are already talking about '97-'98 in the past tense" and that was a better period than 1996-97, he said. "We need to look at issues beyond this."

Chung Lee, senior fellow in the center's research program, told the luncheon meeting that the question about the current economic growth is whether "it is sustainable or if it is going to deteriorate down the road."

For more information about the July conference, call the center's seminars department, 944-7615.



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