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6-Regulation: U.S. urges APEC members to liberalise GMO food

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  US urges members to liberalise GMO food
        Senior officials to further study issue
SOURCE: The Bangkok Post, Thailand, by Woranuj Maneerungsee,
        Charoen Kittikanya
DATE:   Jun 3, 2003

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US urges members to liberalise GMO food
Senior officials to further study issue

The United States, the world's largest agricultural producer, yesterday
urged Apec members to liberalise trade in genetically modified food products.

This represents the first time GMO issues have been raised at the Asia
Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Trade ministers of the 21-nation group will conclude their two-day
meeting today.

Thai Commerce Minister Adisai Bodharamik, standing as chairman of the
meeting, said US Trade Representative Robert Zoelick had urged several
members, particularly Japan, to adopt more flexibility about GMO
products, but had failed to reach consensus.

Mr Adisai said ministers agreed to ask Apec senior officials to further
study the issue with science experts.

The use of GMO products is controversial worldwide, with many consumer
groups arguing an outright ban against bioengineered food and seed
products due to safety concerns.

But GMO producers say safety fears are overblown, with little scientific
evidence available about the dangers of engineered foodstuffs.

Supporters say GMO products also offer huge potential for developing
countries to increase crop yields and reduce pesticide use. Both the
European Union and Japan have imposed heavy restrictions on GMO products.

The US has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organisation against
the EU for its import restrictions on GMO goods as a violation of trade

Mr Adisai said the GMO issue needed further study.

Apec ministers yesterday also agreed to a plan aimed at boosting the
region's tourism industry in the wake of the Sars epidemic.

Mr Adisai said that new cases of Sars had fallen off in recent weeks,
raising hopes that the deadly disease had been contained.

Since last November, Sars has killed more than 760 people and infected
more than 8,300 people, with Hong Kong and China the hardest hit.

The epidemic has ravaged tourism in the region, leading many economists
to cut their Asian economic growth forecasts for this year.

The "APEC Action Plan on Sars" was aimed at boosting confidence among
business travellers and general tourists by developing common health
screening procedures for air travellers, increasing cooperative efforts
for prevention and treatment and information-sharing among the member

Mr Adisai said the plan was aimed at "making sure health screening was
effective as well as promoting the movement of people", adding the
ministers expected that public fears over the virus would ease within 2-3

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Free trade agreement talks with US today
SOURCE: The Bangkok Post, Thailand, by Woranuj Maneerungsee
DATE:   Jun 3, 2003

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Free trade agreement talks with US today

The Thai and US trade ministers will meet today to discuss a future
bilateral free trade agreement on the sidelines of Apec meetings.

Officials said other topics to be discussed between Commerce Minister
Adisai Bodharamik and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick would be
intellectual property rights, customs procedures and genetically modified
organisms (GMOs).

Mr Adisai and Mr Zoellick are attending a two-day meeting of trade
ministers of member states of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec).

Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa, a specialist at the Trade Negotiations
Department, said one issue likely to be raised was US companies'
complaints over local customs procedures.

The United States would also ask Thailand to allow freer trade of
products with GMOs.

It is likely the US would push trade partners to open markets for such
products from US companies.

Recently, the US lodged complaints with the World Trade Organisation
(WTO) accusing the European Union of having insufficient scientific
evidence to ban the import of genetically modified products.

Mrs Wiboonlasana said Thailand and the US would also move forward to a
bilateral free trade arrangement.

Both countries signed a trade and investment framework agreement last
year in Mexico to promote bilateral trade liberalisation and investment.

Last year, Thai exports to the US registered a growth of 2.4% for US$13.5
billion year-on-year, while the value of imports stood at $6.1 billion,
down by 14.1%.

The two countries agreed to create a joint council to further facilitate
free trade and investment in areas of intellectual property, information
technology, biotechnology policy, and capacity-building, as well as
coordination in Apec and the WTO. Yanyong Phuangrach, head of the
Intellectual Property Department, said copyright protection would be
discussed. He added Thailand had done enough in the past months on
copyright protection, therefore the US should consider taking Thailand
off its watch lists.


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