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PR on Call on DG 17 Feb1

GENEVA - Key officials of the Philippines met with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevêdo yesterday to discuss the Philippine chairmanship of APEC 2015 and possible synergies with the work of the WTO this year.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura Q. del Rosario, the APEC 2015 SOM Chair, together with Ambassador Esteban B. Conejos, Jr., Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and Ambassador Cecilia B. Rebong, Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, called on the Director General after meeting with the APEC Geneva Caucus earlier in the day.

During the call, Undersecretary del Rosario conveyed to the Director General that APEC will continue its full support for the multilateral trading system during the Philippine chairmanship. She noted that APEC and the Philippines will continue to cooperate and communicate with the WTO in order to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes at the APEC 2015 Leaders Week in Manila in November and the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December. She also informally conveyed the invitation of President Benigno S. Aquino III, through a subsequent formal letter from Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, for the Director General to visit Manila and participate in the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Boracay in May.

Director General Azevêdo conveyed that APEC could play a significant role in raising awareness and ensuring the immediate ratification by APEC members of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. He thanked the Philippines for its crucial involvement in the Agriculture outcomes of the Bali Package, and expressed appreciation for the "extremely helpful" role of Ambassador Conejos as chairman of the Preparatory Committee in Trade Facilitation. He urged members to be "creative and open-minded" on the WTO's work this year, including the formulation of a post-Bali Doha Development Agenda work program. He noted that the WTO will continue communicating with the Philippines as developments take shape in the coming months. He looked forward to participating in the MRT meeting in Boracay in May.

Before ending, Ambassador Rebong, Ambassador Conejos and Undersecretary del Rosario painted a vivid picture for Director General Azevêdo of Boracay, the "island paradise with fine powder-white sand and clear blue waters". END