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New consensus on FTAAP expected to be reached in APEC meeting: experts

By Che Bin (People's Daily)    15:42, November 17, 2016

Experts expect that the 24th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting to be held in Lima, capital of Peru from November 19 to 20 will reap new consensus on building the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

By listing integration of the Asia-Pacific economy as a key item on the agenda, the Lima meeting will declare the determination of APEC members to address present challenges and pursue open development.

They added that as the top-level and most influential economic cooperation mechanism that covers the broadest areas in the Asia-Pacific region, APEC considers regional economic integration as a foundation for cooperation on all fronts.

Former Chinese APEC official Wang Yusheng told the People's Daily that as the most inclusive free trade arrangement reaching most members in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as an important approach to promote regional economic integration, the FTAAP could bring the region long-term prosperity.

The APEC mechanism was established 27 years ago to promote Asia-Pacific economic collaboration. Since then, it has been seeking a cooperation model that meets the diversified needs of the region, liberalizing and facilitating regional trade and investment, and intensifying technological and economic cooperation, in order to pursue a regional economic integration that benefits all members.

Chen Fengying, world economy researcher with China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), reviewed the FTAAP course, explaining that after a timetable for liberalization of APEC investment and trade was set out in the Bogor Declaration, issued during the 1994 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Bogor, Indonesia for the first time, the Osaka Action Agenda and Manila Action Plan made specific arrangements on this agenda.

She added that the Beijing meeting held in 2014 finally endorsed the Beijing Roadmap for APEC’s Contribution to the Realization of the FTAAP based on the US initiative to establish the FTAAP in 2006.

The roadmap, as one of the most important outcomes during the Beijing APEC meeting, can be seen as a guideline for a comprehensive and systematic construction of the FTAAP. The roadmap also required all members to complete a collective strategic study before the end of 2016, and submit their suggestions for future work to the Lima meeting.

Chen believes that APEC should seize the opportunities brought by the Lima meeting, since it will be another important meeting that truly focuses on the FTAAP after the Beijing APEC summit.

"The Lima meeting will serve as critical juncture in FTAAP construction," said Liu Chenyang, Director of Nankai University's APEC Study Center, hoping that this year’s meeting could give a new interpretation of the FTAAP under new circumstances.

He believes the FTAAP will not only create a sustained institutional framework for Asia-Pacific economic integration, but will propel the free trade system in a multilateral framework by deepening cooperation on global value chains.

The FTAAP is indispensable to the future development of the Asia-Pacific, Peruvian Ambassador to China Juan Carlos Capuñay said, advising that the FTAAP should integrate the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with other agreements and include every member in the region into its sphere.

China has contributed great efforts to construction of the FTAAP. After a connectivity blueprint on FTAAP construction was laid out at the Beijing meeting, China has advocated the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, put forward the "Belt and Road" initiative, and set up the Silk Road Fund. Meanwhile, it is also committed to building high-standard free trade zones.

China's action and achievements have proved it is a participator, promoter and leader of Asia-Pacific regional cooperation. The country looks forward to new progress in Asia-Pacific economic integration and a new consensus on the FTAAP from the upcoming Lima meeting.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Ma Danning, Bianji)

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