The APEC Senior Officials' Meeting that wrapped up on November 7 has yielded positive progress for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), according to a spokesman for China's commerce ministry.
"The results are yet to be deliberated at the Ministerial Meeting before they are approved at the Economic Leaders' Meeting," said the spokesman Shen Danyang at a news conference in Beijing Friday.
The idea of a free trade area for the APEC economies was first proposed eight years ago and a roadmap for the idea, now known as the FTAAP, is expected to come out of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting from November 10 to 11.
Speaking about yesterday's Senior Officials' Meeting, Shen said: "APEC senior officials have agreed to play a collaborative and leading role in deepening regional economic integration, and complete the formulation of a roadmap for the realization of the FTAAP."
He added that officials have pledged to promote interaction between the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), increase transparency, enhance strategic studies on FTAAP, and lay a solid foundation for regional economic integration.
Senior officials from the APEC member economies have agreed to launch a strategic study on the FTAAP, and the study will last around two years, said Alan Bollard, executive director of APEC Secretariat.
Bollard said the study would focus on the possibility of the FTAAP, how long it might take to establish.
How to go through or integrate the existing bilateral and multilateral treaties, including the TPP and the RCEP, will be a big issue for the FTAAP in the pipeline.
Between 1989 and 2012, the total trade volume in the APEC region increased by over six and half times, outperforming the rest of the world, with two thirds of this trade occurring between APEC member economies.
(China.org.cn November 7, 2014)