JOINT COMMUNIQUE (January 13-15, Manila, Philippines)
The Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF), having held the Second Annual Meeting in Manila from 14 to 15 January 1994:
Notes the necessity to conduct regional and bilateral dialogue on political and security issues so that transparency of defense policies and mutual reassurance would be enhanced;
Expresses its appreciation for the outcome of ministerial as well as informal leaders’ meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Seattle last November 1993, which reaffirmed the importance of trade liberalization and regional cooperation;
Welcomes a successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round negotiations which will further strengthen the free and open trade system of General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT);
Welcomes the decision by ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference which was held last year in Singapore to start the ASEAN Regional Forum;
Notes the urgency to tackle such regional issues as cooperation with Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam; global issues as the environment, AIDS, drugs, cultural cooperation and human resources development which may cause serious problems to the future of humanity, if appropriate measures are not taken;
Hereby adopts the following Joint Communique:
I. Regional Political and Security Dialogue
- the APPF is aware that the tendency towards increased military expenditures in Asia, notwithstanding the end of the Cold War, is a matter of concern. In a security environment that has been more complex than Europe’s, it is becoming increasingly important in view of the recent tendency to promote not only bilateral dialogue but also multilateral and regional dialogue on political and security issues to make the defense policies of the countries in the region more transparent and increase the sense of mutual reassurance. It is in this context that the APPF welcomes the inauguration this year of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) which will be participated in by most countries who have regional security interests. The inaugural meeting of the ARF should become an important turning point in regional security of Asia Pacific.
The member countries of APPF shall appeal to their respective governments to work for the success of the ARF. In like manner, a concerted effort to rally support for a formal understanding on the peaceful settlement of the territorial dispute in the Spratleys should be made.
- Transfer of weapons and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are some of the specific security concerns that exist. It behooves the countries in Asia Pacific to continue seriously in addressing these issues.
The issue of nuclear weapons development by North Korea is a matter of urgent and grave concern. The APPF is convinced that the international community should encourage every bilateral and multilateral effort, including on-going bilateral negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, in order to urge North Korea to nullify its decision of withdrawing from the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to fully comply with the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) safeguard agreement to implement the North and South Joint Declaration.
- The U.S. presence in the Asia Pacific region continues to be a positive factor in the region’s peace and stability and promoting its prosperity. The APPF thus maintains that further trade liberalisation adds to the U.S. commitment in the region.
II. Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
The meeting of APEC in Seattle in December 1993 forged a strong commitment among leaders of the Pacific Rim to deepen their spirit of community based on their shared vision of achieving stability, security and prosperity for their respective peoples. Despite their disparate backgrounds, the APEC participants share the belief that trade is a positive force in economic development.
The APPF shall encourage APEC in the furtherance of its goals and shall seek ways of forging closer ties with APEC by becoming the parliamentary organisation to APEC.
III. Uruguay Round
- The Asia Pacific region has been the greatest beneficiary of a liberalized world trade system. The APPF welcomes wholeheartedly the recent conclusion of the Uruguay Round as it is expected to further stimulate world trade. It is from this vantage point that the Asia Pacific parliamentarians declare their intention to do their utmost to expeditiously legislate domestic laws to implement the Uruguay Round agreements taking into account the need for special and differential treatment and for national and international cooperation and assistance in providing socioeconomic safety nets, technology and infrastructure development for developing countries.
- The World Trade Organization (WTO), a body established as a part of the Uruguay Round agreements, will provide a permanent forum for multilateral trade negotiations, determines the rules and procedures for dispute settlement and reviews periodically the trade policies of the signatories. It is hoped that through the activity of WTO, fair trade practices that reflect diverse views including developing economies’ perspectives will be established.
- The APPF also welcomes the efforts that China is making to pursue a "socialist market economy" which should help its taking part in the works of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) as a contracting party. The parliamentarians of the APPF support these efforts to further enhance free trade in the Asia Pacific region in particular and in the world in general.
IV. Economic Cooperation
Extremely diverse in the stages of economic development, some Asia Pacific countries are donors in economic cooperation, others recipients, and yet others are in transition from recipient to donor status. The APPF welcomes the so-called South-South Cooperation, which it has begun to witness recently such as cooperation for the development of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Towards this end, the APPF also calls upon all other nations, especially the developed countries to increase their level of resources and assistance. It is extremely important , in the interest of the stability of the international community, that countries in Asia, the region achieving the most dynamic growth in the world, offer technical cooperation to other countries within and outside Asia to share with them their experience and knowledge. The industrialised countries in Asia Pacific should extend maximum assistance to these new donors so that the cooperation they offer will be effective.
V. Regional Cooperative Economic Arrangements
- The era has witnessed the formation of regional trading groups, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), to liberalise the movement of goods and capital across state borders in order to spur economic growth. However, non-member states, especially developing countries, have expressed concern over the possible adverse impact of these regional economic arrangements and have called for intensified economic cooperation and the implementation of measures that address the present imbalance in international economic relations. There is therefore a need for APPF to discover the complementarities and opportunities in these economic arrangements in the greater Asia Pacific community.
- The APPF encourages the emergence of economic growth polygon in Mindanao, in Southern Philippines, Sulawesi in Eastern Indonesia, Malaysia, Sabah, Brunei, North Australia; Singapore, Johore and Batam Island; and other countries within ASEAN which provides all the support to promote this economic growth area.
APPF further encourages the initiative to establish a non-political free and liberalised trade area among the Philippines and its neighbor countries to propel larger trade and economic development in the area.
VI. Human Resource Development and Protection
- In order to further promote the socio-economic development of the Asia Pacific region, the APPF realises that cooperation in the field of the development of human resources, which plays a central role in any nation-building effort, has to be conducted in parallel with cooperation in building infrastructure.
- The APPF also believes that to create a true sense of community and to build healthy bilateral and multilateral relations within the region, exchanges of students and scholars through such means as establishing a network of higher educational institutions are to be pursued.
- The APPF recognises the aspirations of indigenous peoples and the preservation of their traditions and culture and the protection of their rights.
VII. Environmental Protection
- Environmental problems are truly international, knowing no national borders. The APPF member countries, as neighbors in the Pacific, with a shared responsibility to pass on the beautiful Pacific Ocean to the next generation, should align their respective environmental policies as a matter of concern to the entire region, not just to their respective countries. Thus, it is a matter of common concern that air pollution, acid rain, destruction of coastal marine resources and tropical rain forests as well as other environmental problems have been surfacing in Asia recently.
- Protection of tropical rain forests has become a global issue as the international community has sought to balance conservation with the economic development aspirations of the developing nations. The growing concern of Pacific Island nations on forest issues was reflected in the final Communique of the South Pacific Forum meeting in August 1993 in Nauru. It is important, therefore, that while recognising sovereignty, due regard must be given to acknowledging that environmental issues transcend national boundaries.
- The APPF calls on member nations to assist in acting positively to advance sustainable development in the APPF’s developing nations. In particular, the countries in the region should work jointly to improve the forest and the marine environment which they share through the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), the Paris Club, and other multilateral organisations to achieve larger-scale debt-for-nature swaps, and other possible means.
- To ensure a healthy Pacific Ocean to the next generation, the APPF has strong concern about the practice of dumping nuclear and toxic waste into the ocean. It is believed that responsible management and disposal of nuclear and toxic waste are important tasks of all countries, and the APPF calls for a ban on ocean dumping of nuclear and toxic waste.
- It expresses concern at the continued testing of nuclear devices by France at Mururoa and calls upon that nation to cease nuclear testing in the Pacific Region.
VIII. Cultural Cooperation
- The Asia Pacific region abounds in cultural diversity and is blessed with cultural heritage and intangible cultural assets including traditional culture, that are precious for the whole world. It is the APPF’s obligation to preserve and pass on these assets it has inherited to future generations.
- Quite a few of them, however, are deemed to be facing the danger of change, decline, or utter extinction as a result of economic development, progress in science and technology and changes in lifestyle and people’s values. To prevent irreversible changes to these assets, it is important for the countries in the Asia Pacific region, which share a common cultural base to launch international cultural exchanges and cooperation.
IX. Aids and Drugs
A). AIDS- Human Immuno-Deficiency –Virus (HIV) infections and Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) have become pandemic.
The APPF calls upon member nations to:
- Adopt a strategy on the fight against AIDS/HIV infections stressing information and education on high risk behavior;
- Reassess AIDS/HIV infection prevention and control programs, bearing in mind the approach, the language used, and the people being targeted;
- Urge business leaders to support wider AIDS/HIV infection prevention activities in the community, and
- Ensure humane treatment for all people with HIV and AIDS.
B) Drugs- Drug abuse has assumed epidemic proportions in various parts of the world, eating the minds of the young and impairing the social fabric of the people’s culture. Notwithstanding the various measures and strategies effected by many countries, the amount of illicit drug trafficking has increased worldwide and invariably generated corruption, criminality, and violence. There is, therefore, a need for APPF member countries to forge greater cooperation towards the control and eradication of the drugs problem.
The APPF recommends that the U.N. consider the development of an international regime of protocol to strictly control the production and distribution of chemicals used in illegal drugs.
X. Membership of Laos, Vietnam, Fiji and Chile
There was consent to the initiatives of four countries –Chile, Fiji, Laos and Vietnam- to become members of the APPF subject, however, to their formal applications.
XI. Expansion of Membership
The matter of new membership in the APPF shall be taken up in the APPF’s Executive Committee Meeting.
XII. Schedule of succeeding General Meetings
The next APPF Executive Committee Meeting will be held in Peru in November 1994 and the General Meeting will be held in Mexico, in January 1995. Peru and Canada also expressed their willingness to host the General Meetings in 1996 and 1997, respectively.
XIII. Coordination with Asia Pacific Parliamentary Leaders Forum (APPLF)
Steps for the eventual consolidation of the APPF with the APPLF with the former as the surviving organization should be undertaken by the Executive Committee.
XIV. Draft Rules of Procedure
The draft Rules of Procedure proposed by Australia and the Philippines was adopted with some amendments.
Adopted this 15th day of January 1994, at the City of Manila, Philippines.
JOSE DE VENECIA, JR.