APEC countries meet on ways to secure trade from terrorists

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Security and trade experts from the 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum met Monday to discuss ways to increase security and reduce the negative economic effects of terrorism. 

The conference in Bangkok, which ends Tuesday, is co-hosted by Thailand and the United States. Issues include whether to require shipping companies to provide more details about cargo and passengers before ships leave port, as well as improvements in aviation security. 

"Greater security with more efficient trade benefits every APEC economy,'' APEC Executive Director Ambassador Piamsak Milintachinda was quoted saying in a news release. 

He added that APEC last year agreed to boost security to facilitate the movement of goods and people across borders. 

A study released at the conference Monday by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said developing nations are suffering disproportionately from fears about the possibility of terrorist attacks. 

Indonesia's tourist arrivals fell 2.2 per cent in 2002, resulting in a loss of about 1 percent of gross domestic product, as tourists were scared away following the Oct. 12 nightclub blasts on the tourist island of Bali, according the report. 

The blasts killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. 

"The costs of terrorism are likely to be felt more by developing economies because of their relatively greater dependence on foreign trade and foreign direct investment inflows,'' the study said.  

It added that cargo and other vessels traveling to and from developing countries could also be subject to higher insurance premiums. 

Last week, senior APEC officials endorsed the establishment of a task force to protect key infrastructure in the region from terrorist attack. - AP 

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