Wed, 24 Aug 1994

APEC's eminent figures due to meet Soeharto

JAKARTA (JP): The chairman of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), C. Fred Bergsten, will present the group's second report to President Soeharto, currently the chairman of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, here next week.

The report, drafted during a policy session in Tokyo in July, contains a blueprint for the implementation of proposals introduced during last year's inaugural APEC Leaders Meeting on Blake Island, Seattle.

Bergsten will be accompanied by the Indonesian and Japanese representatives in the EPG, Suhadi Mangkusuwondo and Ippei Yamazawa, respectively.

The results of the EPG report are expected to figure highly in the agenda of the APEC summit here in November.

The EPG was established in 1992 with the aim of creating an outline for APEC's future. It consists of 16 representatives from the academic and business fields along with other noted persons having special expertise.

Bergsten is also scheduled to attend the third APEC Senior Officials Meeting in Yogyakarta from Sept. 12-14.

Though yet to be formally made public, Minister/State Secretary Moerdiono admitted on Monday that the report has leaked. "To tell you the truth there has been a breach, but what has been leaked out does not reflect the views of the EPG."

Nevertheless sources said that reports on EPG's proposal to adopt an explicit timetable for the creation of a free trade area by the year 2020 are accurate.

In the proposal the group targets the removal of all trade barriers by 2010 for developed nations, 2015 for newly industrialized nations and 2020 for the developing ones.

In addition, a dispute settlement mechanism, similar to the one being created by the newly formed World Trade Organization (WTO), is also being proposed.

Moerdiono however played down the impact of the coming EPG report, saying that the group is not a political decision-making body. "They are just experts, so their views may not concur with the leaders is the leaders who will make the decisions," he said. (mds)