, MAY 24, 2007 (TIMES) President Arroyo on Thursday pinned the blame on rich countries for stalling the Doha round of WTO negotiations but said developing nations still hoped for a deal.

Addressing an economic forum in Tokyo, the President said her nation will continue to sign free-trade pacts so that the rapidly expanding Philippine economy will enjoy mature, sustainable growth.

“We hope the Doha round is successful because it was designed to be the round that would focus on development, to be the round to bring the benefits of the global trading system to less developed nations,” she said.

“On this road to globalization, the developed nations have let many of less developed nations down,” the President said.

The Doha Development Round, launched in 2001 among the World Trade Organization’s members to reach a global trade pact, collapsed last year.

Less developed countries have demanded that rich nations—including Japan, the United States and the European Union—cut back subsidies to farmers, fearing poor countries’ agricultural sector would be submerged.

“When trade served their interests, it was the green light. Now that they might have to give up certain subsidies or markets, the yellow light of caution is up,” Mrs. Arroyo said of rich nations.

“While we want a successful round, we will not just wait around. We aim to go full speed ahead, in the Philippines and in Asean, to strengthen our economic ties regardless of what the Doha [round] does or does not,” she said.

Asean nations—individually and collectively—will continue to form regional and bilateral free-trade pacts for further economic gains, she said.

The President has agreed to a free-trade deal with Japan but its ratification has been stalled in the Senate with environmentalists saying the country could become a dumping ground for toxic waste. --AFP

You’ve let us down, GMA tells developed nations BY REGINA BENGCO (MALAYA)

MALAYA, MAY 25, 2007:  PRESIDENT Arroyo yesterday chided developed nations for letting the developing countries down, and for pushing for globalization only when it served their purpose.

In her speech before the 13th Nikkei forum on the Future of Asia held in Japan, Arroyo expressed hope the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) would push through because it was meant to be the round that would bring benefits of global trading system to less developed countries.

Arroyo, who shepherded the Senate ratification of the Philippines’ accession to the WTO in 1994 when she was still a senator, said trade is "the wave of the future" but "it is not free from pain, not for many people, not for certain industries, not for a number of nations."

"Yet on this road to globalization, the developed nations have let many of the developing nations down. When trade served their interests, it was a green light; now that they might have to give up certain subsidies or markets, the yellow light of caution is up. And there are fears that light may turn to red before this is over," she said.

She said the Philippines and Asean will not wait for the Doha talks to proceed but will "go full speed ahead in the Philippines and in Asean to strengthen our economic ties, regardless of what Doha does or does not bring."

She said the Philippines, as chair of Asean, helped lead the call for the revival of the Doha Round and in the decision to move forward with free trade negotiations.

She said the free trade agreements between Asean and China, and South Korea are moving into their final stages and it is up to the Asean member countries to ratify the FTAs.

She said Asean is moving forward with its plans to pursue an FTA with the European Union and that negotiations for an FTA with Japan are very promising, and hopes that such an agreement would be signed in November.

She called for closer cooperation in Asean and in all of Asia to benefit from the good and tackle the big challenges together. She said Asean must nurture its ties with Japan, China, and South Korea.

She said it took the European Union 50 years to reach its present stage of integration and its evolution from a region of conflict to a force for peace and security. In the same way, she said Asean’s diversity is a strength and not a barrier.

Arroyo said she would like to see Japan playing a lead role in contributing to community building and maintaining peace and security in the East Asian region, in the same way that it plays a key role in the peace process in Mindanao by providing economic development.

"Japan has the political, economic and cultural power to help the world choose the right path in the crossroad of the 21st century in the future of Asia. It has the power to help the world stick to that path for the harmony and prosperity of mankind, especially in Asia," she said.

She said Japan can "help save the world especially Asia from a scenario of strife and hunger, ignorance and disease."

Arroyo said the Philippine economy has reached a new level of maturity and stability as shown by the strongest macroeconomic fundamentals in decades.

She said the May 14 elections, which she dubbed as "peaceful, fair and free" showed that the Philippine economy is stable and strong. She said it also showed that economic reforms will not be upset by partisan elections.

She added that the Philippines’ reelection to the UN Human Rights Council is "another expression of confidence" of her government’s commitment to uphold human rights.

In her meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Wednesday, Arroyo briefed Abe on her government’s efforts to address human rights issues raised against her government.

Arroyo is expected to be back in Manila at 1:05 p.m. today.

On Sunday, she will leave for New Zealand and Australia, where she will stay until the end of the month.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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