APEC leaders pledge further economic integration in region, steps toward FTAAP

16:29, November 11, 2010      

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This photo taken on Nov. 11, 2010 shows a general view of the plenary session of the ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama, Japan. The two-day ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum closed on Thurday. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

Ministers of the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum affirmed in a joint statement Thursday that trade liberalization in the region will be achieved through further economic integration and that concrete steps towards realizing a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) had been made.

The statement comes following the conclusion of a two-day meeting, co-chaired by Seiji Maehara, Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Akihiro Ohata, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and involving ministers of the 21-member APEC group.

"The APEC region has been leading global economic growth in spite of the crisis and has actively contributed to overcoming it, " the leaders said in the statement.

"The APEC region will continue to increase its importance in the global economy as a growth center."

The ministerial statement said that the region, which now faces a multitude of challenges including volatility, creating employment and reconsolidating finance and continuing to keep a balance between recovery and the exit strategies of fiscal and monetary policies, will require the reinforcement of APEC's agenda of regional economic integration (REI).

"We reaffirmed that APEC's work on trade and investment liberalization and facilitation has been and will continue to be furthered by its REI agenda," the statement said.

"Officials updated us on their deliberations on the REI agenda, including on APEC's sectoral initiatives and their work to explore a range of possible pathways to a Free Trade Area of the Asia- Pacific (FTAAP)."

"We endorsed the work undertaken by Senior Officials this year, and recommended that Leaders reaffirm their commitment to accelerate work on strengthening and deepening REI in order to best advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation in the region."

The ministers said that they had resolved to take decisive steps towards the realization of an FTAAP and regard this as an integral part of its REI agenda.

"In light of recent developments regarding the economic architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, such as those related to Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), we affirmed that taking concrete steps toward realization of an FTAAP is an important part of the REI agenda."

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