Ministers from member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum started discussions on Wednesday to prepare proposals on trade liberalization and a new economic growth strategy for leaders to decide at their weekend summit in Yokohama.
The ministers will deliberate how to support multilateral free trade frameworks and fight trade protectionism at the two-day meeting held before APEC leaders arrive in the Japanese port city to ponder on possible pathways to a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
Several bilateral or multilateral frameworks already exist in the region, including the ASEAN+3, the ASEAN+6 and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The meeting will confirm a new growth strategy for the Asia-Pacific and an assessment of progress on the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment. Discussions will also include structural reform and the Doha round of global trade talks.
APEC members, which account for more than 40 percent of global trade and more than half of the world’s economic output, have been developing a new growth strategy to achieve balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure economic growth.
Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said in his opening remarks that the world is on the path to economic recovery and APEC member economies have contributed to the recovery of the world economy.
Meanwhile, APEC members need to embrace changes and translate them into actions in order to adapt to new circumstances as the world economy is undergoing structural reform, he said.
The pace of implementation of the Bogor Goals, adopted at a 1994 APEC summit, takes into account differing levels of economic development among APEC economies, with the industrialized economies achieving the goal no later than the year 2010 and developing economies no later than the year 2020.
The five developed economies — the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand — are subject to assessment at the Yokohama APEC summit. Eight developing economies, including South Korea, Singapore and China’s Hong Kong, volunteered to participate in the assessment this year. (PNA/Xinhua)