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Business leaders to step up push for Asia-Pacific free trade area

CNA 2010/05/11

Business leaders to step up push for Asia-Pacific free trade area

Taipei, May 11 (CNA) — Business leaders from a 21-member economic network in the Asia Pacific region will urge government leaders to set a timetable for the creation of a regional free trade area later this year, Taiwanese delegates said Tuesday.

Some 200 business leaders who will meet in Taipei May 17-21 for a regional economic conference will make promoting a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) one of their missions, said Matthew Miau, chairman of Taiwan’s MiTAC-SYNNEX Group.

The conference will be the second meeting this year of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC), which is made up of executives who advise leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

APEC has 21 member economies, which account for approximately 40.5 percent of the world’s population, approximately 54 percent of world GDP and about 43.7 percent of world trade.

There are three ABAC business leaders representing each APEC member economy. They meet four times a year.

"In 2006, the ABAC already set a goal over how to encourage APEC leaders to set a timetable for (the FTAAP)," he told a press briefing in Taipei.

"It is hoped that there will be a specific timetable (later this year)," he added.

Asked by CNA if Taiwan’s delegates will propose a specific timetable to the APEC leaders, Miau said that "we (all the delegates) will discuss this together." Miau added that "political factors, not economic ones, " are the biggest obstacle to forming the FTAAP as members have different stances.

This year also happens to be the target year for developed economies in APEC to achieve the Bogor Goals, which were adopted by APEC leaders in 1994 to push for free and open trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region.

There are already 42 FTAs signed among APEC members, according to Miau.

His remarks came as Taiwan is working to sign a trade pact, which will lay the groundwork for a free trade agreement (FTA), with China in June.

Taiwan has vowed to sign FTAs with other trade partners after the Taiwan-China pact is signed.

Also, at the press conference Tuesday, Cathay Financial Holdings Chairman Tsai Hong-tu, who is the leader of Taiwan’s ABAC delegation, said that delegates from other member economies were particularly interested in how Taiwan’s government has helped small and medium-sized enterprises with financing, technology transfer and crisis management.

Tsai said he will deliver a report on the efforts by Taiwan’s government at the third ABAC meeting in Bangkok in late August.

In addition, Cher Wang, the chairwoman of Taipei-based HTC Corp., who was also at the press conference, said that she will promote knowledge-based economic growth driven by information and communications technology (ICT), an area in which Taiwan is strong.

HTC is the world’s fourth largest smartphone maker.

The APEC leaders’ summit this year will take place in Japan’s Yokohama in mid-November.

(By Alex Jiang)

 source: CNA