APEC Ministers Agree To Strengthen The Contribution Of RTAs FTAs To Achieving APECs Goals

APEC Ministers Agree To Strengthen The Contribution Of RTAs/FTAs To Achieving APEC’s Goals
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers have endorsed a three stage initiative to strengthen the role of Regional Trade Agreements and Free Trade Agreements (RTAs/FTAs) in the APEC process.This initiative includes an overall APEC policy response, a set of clear transparency measures and a capacity building program. This endorsement came at the APEC Ministerial Meeting from 17 to 18 November in Santiago, Chile.The ‘APEC Best Practices for RTAs and FTAs’ are intended to achieve high standard FTA/RTA agreements in the region, to ensure that RTAs/FTAs contribute to achieving the APEC Bogor Goals, and are consistent with the WTO.Chair of all APEC Senior Officials Meetings in 2004, Ricardo A. Lagos, said the APEC Best Practices for RTAs and FTAs initiative will help to maximize the contribution of bilateral and regional agreements to furthering trade liberalisation in the Asia-Pacific.”These APEC Best Practices for RTAs and FTAs is a timely policy response to better understanding the growing number of RTAs/FTAs in the region,” Mr. Lagos said.”It is important for APEC Member Economies to attend to concerns expressed by the business community about the potential additional costs for business from their proliferation.””To enhance transparency APEC Ministers have also approved a new reporting template to enable economies to share information on their RTAs/FTAs beginning in 2005. “To support this template the APEC Secretariat is tasked with establishing a webpage with official links to most FTA agreements involving APEC member economies.” Mr. Lagos said that at the meeting in Santiago this week ministers also supported additional capacity building assistance. “The additional capacity building support is intended to ensure that all APEC Member Economies are able to undertake the analytical and negotiating tasks involved in conducting RTA and FTA negotiations.”RTAs/FTAs between APEC members often contain innovative provisions in areas such as education, cooperation, science and technology, paperless trading and mutual recognition, in addition to provisions on goods, services, trade remedies, investment, entry for business people, and dispute settlement. APEC members have already concluded 40 free trade agreements and are currently negotiating 34 more.Press Release Courtesy of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
November 2004