A slew of regional trade agreement breakthroughs in the Asia-Pacific in recent days are consistent with APEC member economies’ region-wide goal for a free trade area and could ultimately be merged to this effect with the help of new convergence mechanisms being developed within APEC.
The comments were made by APEC Secretariat Executive Director Ambassador Muhamad Noor on Wednesday during a talk before academics in Singapore on APEC’s role in promoting regional economic development.
He said that regional trade agreement negotiations, in particular the Trans-Pacific Partnership which was just given an informal October 2013 target, and the newly announced talks for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and tri-lateral free trade agreement between China, Japan and Korea, involve a large number of APEC member economies.
“If in the end they result in greater liberalization, this would be welcome within the context of APEC’s broader efforts to advance growth and prosperity through the promotion of greater trade and economic integration, and could offer new paths to achieving a region-wide free trade zone that is a shared objective of members.”
APEC member economies continue to make progress on concrete initiatives that address ‘next generation’ trade and investment issues that future trade agreements should contain. This includes the endorsement of new APEC transparency guidelines for regional trade agreements and free trade agreements endorsed in 2012.
“Transparency is a fundamental principle underlying trade liberalization and facilitation, and key for businesses and to reducing barriers to trade,” Noor explained.
“APEC’s work on transparency promotes convergence and contributes to APEC’s regional economic integration agenda, further supporting the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.”
There are about 50 regional trade agreements and free trade agreements between APEC’s 21 member economies.
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