Apec ministers renew push for free trade area in Pacific Rim
LIMA, Peru — Senior ministers of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member economies made a renewed push on Friday for the establishment of a free trade area in the Pacific Rim.
In a joint statement after the Apec Ministers Meeting held Nov. 17 and 18 here, the members repeated their willingness to move negotiations forward in the creation of the Free Trade Area in Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which was being pushed by China.
“We reaffirm our commitment to advance the process in a comprehensive and systematic manner towards the eventual realization of the FTAAP as a major instrument to further APEC´s regional economic integration agenda towards and beyond the Bogor Goals,” the ministers said.
The Bogor Goals refer to a set of initiatives for realizing free and open trade in the Asia-Pacific agreed on by member economies in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia.
Under the agreement, the members will pursue free and open trade among themselves by further reducing barriers to trade and investment and by promoting the free flow of goods, services and capital among Apec economies.
In their statement, the Apec ministers welcomed the regional organization’s progress in implementing the Regional Economic Integration (REI) Capacity Building Needs Initiative, which was seen as a “solid stepping stone” for the realization of the FTAAP.
“We look forward to the Dialogue and Seminar regarding FTAAP next year,” they said.
China and the United States are each making a push for their own free trade pacts with the booming economies in the Asia Pacific Region.
In October 2015, 12 Pacific nations reached an agreement on the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, whose members include the US, Australia, Singapore, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
But the fate of the TPP has come into question after the election of Donald Trump as US president, who is opposed to free trade deals and is expected to push a more protectionist economic policy when he begins his term in 2017.
The ministerial discussions were held ahead of the Apec Economic Leaders Meeting, which takes place on Nov. 19 and 20 with the participation of the heads of state or representatives of 21 Pacific Rim countries.
President Rodrigo Duterte landed in the Peruvian capital before midnight Thursday (Friday in Manila).
The Philippines was represented by Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez at the Ministers Meeting, which was chaired by two Peruvian officials — Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna and Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Eduardo Ferreyros.
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