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‘APEC agree on free trade’

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    24th Nov, 2020

Leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, including US, have pledged to work toward free, open and non-discriminatory trade and investment to revive their coronavirus-battered economies.

Context

Leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, including US, have pledged to work toward free, open and non-discriminatory trade and investment to revive their coronavirus-battered economies.

About

What is APEC?

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.
  • APEC ensures that goods, services, investment and people move easily across borders.
  • Members facilitate this trade through faster customs procedures at borders; more favorable business climates behind the border; and aligning regulations and standards across the region.

Who are the member countries?

  • APEC's 21 members aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
    • Together, these 21 economies currently represent the most dynamic economic region in the world with 40% of world's population, 60% of global GDP and 50% of total trade.

RCEP & TPP: Two parallel structures

  • APEC stands for a larger free-trade philosophy, but it is up to the member states to give flesh out the details of what it means in practical terms.
  • This is starting to happen, but already two structures that are emerging within APEC reflect the growing rivalry between China and Washington: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). 
  • RCRP was first launched in 2012 by ASEAN and six of its partners, including China, Australia, India Japan. 
  • As a reaction the US started to aggressively build on another structure, the TPP, that was first initiated by Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand in 2005.
  • In an attempt to create a single market for the U.S. and 11 countries that border the Pacific Ocean, including Canada, Mexico, and Chile, Washington jumped in. The TPP in its new form was proposed by US President Barack Obama and signed in February 2016.

Key-highlights of the meeting

  • APEC leaders adopted the Putrajaya Vision 2040, a new 20-year growth vision to replace the Bogor Goals.
    • The Bogor Goals, One of APEC's flagship initiatives, were released in 1994 for members to move towards the long-term goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region no later than the year 2020. 
  • They pledged to build an “open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful region” by 2040, and tasked officers to draw up implementation plans by next year.
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