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Oxfam warning

Leaders from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries should take the opportunity

to push forward a development agenda at their meetings this week in Hanoi, said international

agency Oxfam on November 15. They should avoid signing free trade deals with the

US or among their members that do not take into account the development needs of

poorer countries.

"APEC should think carefully about creating a regional free trade zone,"

warned Matthew Coghlan, Regional Trade Policy Officer for Oxfam.

"APEC is made up of both developed and developing countries. A free trade agreement

based on the US model, with deep and rapid liberalization, and WTO-plus provisions

and commitments, will pose problems for the latter as they seek to develop."

Free trade deals with WTO-plus conditions can block access to affordable medicines

by including stringent intellectual-property rules and also tend to favour foreign

investors over the environment and the public interest, he said.

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