APEC officials discuss possible Free Trade Area for Asia-Pacific

08:42 | 27/02/2017 Ten Years An APEC

Senior officials of APEC economies as well as experts and scholars have discussed the possibility of establishing a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) along with its potential impacts and difficulties facing the process.

APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security meeting in Khanh Hoa (Photo: VNA)

A workshop on realising FTAAP was held in Nha Trang, the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, on February 25 as part of activities of the APEC First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) and related meetings.

The FTAAP was first mentioned in the statement of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Hanoi in 2006. Last year, APEC leaders released the Lima Declaration on FTAAP, which emphasised the role of APEC in proposing contents related to such a free trade area with a view to gradually realising the idea.

In addition to the workshop, meetings were held during the day by nine committees and working groups, namely the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), Economic Committee (EC), Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS), Oceans and Fisheries Working Groups (OFWG), Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2), Competition Policy and Law Group (CPLG) and Market Access Group (MAG).

The PPFS meeting looked at the implementation of long-term strategies, including the APEC strategic framework on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth, and the APEC programme on food security and climate change.

Participants also contributed ideas to the APEC statement that is scheduled to be discussed at the high-level dialogue on food security and sustainable agriculture adaptable to climate change scheduled to take place in Can Tho in Vietnam next August.

Meanwhile, OFWG members debated a working plan for 2017 and reviewed recent cooperation activities related to sea and oceans. They also updated each other on the progress of several initiatives, including the enhancement of capacity to deal with maritime waste and the building of a tool set to measure ecological risks posed by climate change to aquatic resources, as well as the encouragement of the private sector’s engagement in the preservation of maritime environment, sustainable fisheries and livelihood.

At the same time, the MAG approved the agenda for their next meeting scheduled for August as part of the third SOM and related meetings in Ho Chi Minh City.

Within the framework of the EC meeting, the Friends of the Chair on Strengthening Economic Legal Infrastructure focused on projects to reinforce the regional economic legal foundation, including the possibility of building an APEC cooperation framework on tackling online conflicts affecting the transactions of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

On the day, the Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2) convened their last meetings, with underway cooperation projects reviewed and new initiatives given.

The TWG agreed on the organisation of a roundtable discussion on high-level policies on sustainable tourism in Ha Long city in June, while the ECSG listened to reports of some economies and international organizations on the development trend of electronic commerce.

The Vietnamese delegation continued to demonstrate a strong performance with proposals on an action plan for implementing the APEC strategic framework on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth, and the APEC programme on food security and climate change.

Vietnamese officials also contributed ideas to the APEC manual on boosting sustainable tourism growth amidst climate change situation and the framework on facilitating cross-border electronic commerce.

Theo NDO/VNA