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Free trade deal beneficial to APEC

Zhang Xiang
Updated: Nov 5,2014 4:42 PM     chinadaily.com.cn

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2014 Concluding Senior Officials Meeting (CSOM) is held at China National Convention Center in Beijing, capital of China, Nov 5, 2014. The APEC 2014 CSOM will be held here from Nov 5 to 6.[Photo/Xinhua]

The proposed Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) will be good for both the region’s development and each member economy, Zhang Lijun, chairman of the China APEC Development Council, said on Nov 5.

Zhang spoke of the priorities at this year’s APEC meeting as the Concluding Senior Officials’ Meeting kicked off in Beijing, marking the beginning of the APEC Economic Leaders’ week in the Chinese capital.

Although the economy of the Asia-Pacific maintained its momentum for a certain period, the developed economies in the region are facing restructuring and the emerging economies are witnessing a slowdown, Zhang said.

Under the current situation, it is necessary to connect and integrate the markets to promote regional economy, which is the reason for putting forward the launch of the FTAAP as one of the priorities this year, Zhang added.

The FTAAP concept was proposed in 2004 and written into the declaration of the APEC economic leaders’ meeting in 2006. China proposed launching a feasibility study in February this year.

“There are already various free trade arrangements in the Asia-Pacific region which are overlapping and fragmented. These can lead to vicious competition after developing to a certain extent.” Zhang said.

The FATTP would change the current trend and benefit the whole region, he said.

According to Valery Sorokin, a Russian senior official for APEC, senior officials have agreed some principles on which the integration process will be based, such as openness, transparency and inclusiveness.

“I think it is a good foundation of our movement toward the FTAAP. We will achieve some positive concrete results. This is a very important and delicate process,” Sorokin said before the opening session of the Concluding Senior Officials’ Meeting.

With FTAAP one of the priorities, senior officials are going to continue pushing forward actions under this year’s theme Shaping the Future Through Asia-Pacific Partnership during the meeting, with other priorities being promoting economic reform and innovative development and building infrastructure investment and comprehensive connectivity.

“The Concluding Senior Officials’ Meeting is crucial, as it will play a key role in the achievements of the Leaders’ Meeting,” Zhang said.

The senior officials’ meeting will last for two days and the APEC Ministerial Meeting, which will take place on Nov 7-8, is expected to shape the roadmap and development of a possible study on FTAAP.

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