Philippine Daily Inquirer | May 19th, 2014
Apec trade ministers eye Asia-Pacific FTA
Members urged to resolve differences
By Ben O. de Vera
MANILA, Philippines—The trade ministers of economies belonging to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) discussed over the weekend potential pathways to a wider Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
In a statement on Saturday, Apec said that the Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Qingdao, China, was meant to put “trade and economic activity across the Asia-Pacific on a more even and robust growth path amid shifting regional and global conditions.”
According to Chinese commerce minister Gao Hucheng, there remains “many instabilities and uncertainties,” as well as risks that may hamper global economic recovery.
“It is urgent for Apec members to demonstrate enough wisdom and courage to continue to firmly support the multilateral trading system and accelerate the Asia-Pacific economic integration process,” said Gao, who chaired the meeting.
Apec members constituted about 50 percent of world trade, as well as 60 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), Gao added.
Apec said that the trade ministers in attendance were “charting a path for strengthening regional integration [so that] emerging free trade agreements and regional trade agreements can move the Apec economies” toward a full FTAAP.
“They are also pursuing actions to meet rising connectivity and infrastructure demands while boosting productivity and new economic opportunities for businesses and people in the region,” Apec added.
“The Asia-Pacific has become the region where global value chains and supply chains are most closely knitted. However, the development differences between the members have yet to be bridged. The interconnectivity in human resources, infrastructure and organizations is still weak,” Gao noted.
“We should actively carry out economic and technical cooperation and focus on bottlenecks in regional interconnectivity and infrastructure development, and discuss new approaches and new thinking for … innovative development, reform and growth.”