Feasibility study on free-trade area up next year
A FEASIBILITY study on the Free-Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) agreement is underway. A draft will be presented to international trade ministers at the start of next year.
Dr. Allan Bollard, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) secretariat executive director, said the final output will be reported to leaders in Lima, Peru, in November next year.
“The study could say ‘don’t go any further’ or ‘(you) need to do more work’ or ‘we could start negotiating for FTAAP,’ but we don’t actually know that yet,” he said in a press briefing at the APEC International Media Center yesterday.
Bollard said the feasibility study on the FTAAP Agreement is among the big projects APEC is undertaking for regional economic growth that is inclusive and sustainable.
“We make sure that the benefits of growth the region is enjoying are trickling equally to economies and people,” Bollard said.
Discussions on FTAAP were done during the APEC Summit in China last year, where delegates agreed to move toward greater regional economic integration by endorsing a road map for the agreement to translate its vision into reality.
The study, conducted by a committee jointly chaired by China and the US, will provide an analysis of potential economic and social benefits and costs; analyze the various pathways towards a Free-Trade Area and identify challenges that economies may face in realizing this goal.
A free-trade area is defined as the region encompassing a trade bloc whose member countries have signed a free-trade agreement to reduce trade barriers and increase trade of goods and services with each other.
Bollard said economies have agreed what should be in the study. He said it’s too early to divulge any information beyond that.
But he said the idea is getting a lot of attention within the Asia-Pacific region.
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