APEC ministers agree not to impose new trade barriers
Ministers of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) met in Yokohama, Japan, Wednesday, pledging not to impose new trade barriers until 2013.
APEC ministers also discussed and would finalize recommendations for Leaders on a new economic growth strategy and measures to liberalize trade and investment.
The key issues include laying out the road map for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which would encompass all APEC members, and establish an action plan for a "growth strategy" that would include supporting small and medium-size enterprises, promoting low-carbon energy, creating opportunities for women, cooperating in industry and technology, and aiding human security.
APEC has also been exploring possible pathways to a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which is part of APEC's agenda on greater regional economic integration to increase trade and investment and boost prosperity in the region.
Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, who co-chairs the meeting with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akihiro Ohata, said that he would like to discuss the creation of a "free trade system ... at a time when the Asia-Pacific region's presence in the global economy is increasing."
In a related development on Wednesday, more than 3,000 people took to the street in Tokyo to protest against Japan's plan to join talks on a trans-Pacific trade pact expected to be high on the agenda at the forthcoming APEC Leaders' Meeting.
Farmers, fishermen and agricultural officials gathered Tokyo and marched through the streets against a proposed free-trade " Trans-Pacific Partnership", fearing price competition.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Saturday that Tokyo would enter talks on the trade pact.
APEC members, which account for 40 percent of the world's population, 44 percent of global trade, and 55 percent of world GDP, has been developing a growth strategy which sets a vision for future growth in the region amid the changing economic landscape.
APEC is committed to the Bogor Goals set in 1994 of realizing free and open trade and investment in the region, which are key to enhancing growth and prosperity. An assessment of member economies ' progress towards these goals has been undertaken and will be presented to APEC Leaders this week.
A report on the assessment of progress by APEC economies towards the Bogor Goals will also be discussed. Set in 1994, the Bogor Goals are a key commitment to realizing free and open trade and investment by 2010 for APEC, five industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies.
In the two-day meeting, the ministers from APEC's 21 member economies will conclude discussions on the priorities to be presented to Leaders on this week on these key APEC initiatives developed during 2010.
The on-going 22nd APEC Ministerial Meeting is part of a week of annual APEC meetings, held this year in the Japanese city of Yokohama, including Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM), the CEO Summit and 18th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting on the weekend.