APEC leaders agree to realize regional free trade pact

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Leaders of 21 Pacific Rim economies agreed to take concrete steps toward realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) as they concluded their two-day meeting in Yokohama, Japan, on Sunday.

In the document "Pathways to FTAAP" which was adopted by the leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), they said " trade and investment liberalization and facilitation will continue to be APEC's core objective. APEC's work to strengthen and deepen regional economic integration will be critical to the achievement of this goal."

The APEC brings together 21 economies in Asia and the Pacific basin. The APEC members account for 53 percent of world production output and more than 44 percent of world trade. "We have agreed that now is the time for APEC to translate FTAAP from an aspirational to a more concrete vision. To that end, we instruct APEC to take concrete steps toward realization of an FTAAP, which is a major instrument to further APEC's Regional Economic Integration agenda."

The document said the FTAAP should do more than achieve liberalization in its narrow sense, it stressed that "it should be comprehensive, high quality and incorporate and address 'next generation' trade and investment issues."

The APEC leaders also believed that an FTAAP should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement by developing and building on ongoing regional undertakings, such as ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among others.

The APEC is committed to the Bogor Goals set in 1994 of realizing free and open trade and investment in the region.

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