Apec ministers push for Pacific free trade pact
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 from Nov. 17-18 here, the members reiterated 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 toward the eventual realization of the FTAAP as a major instrument to further Apec’s regional economic integration agenda toward 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 by member economies in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia.
Under the agreement, the members will pursue free and open trade among each other by further reducing barriers to trade and investment, and by promoting the free flow of goods, services and capital among Apec economies.
The Apec ministers, in their joint statement, welcomed the regional grouping’s progress in implementing the Regional Economic Integration 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 (TPP), 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 US President-elect Donald Trump, 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 on Nov. 19-20, which would be attended by the heads of state or representatives of 21 Pacific Rim countries.
President 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.
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