News / Asia

APEC Targets Pacific Wide Free Trade Zone in Upcoming US Summit

APEC Targets Pacific Wide Free Trade Zone in Upcoming US Summit
APEC Targets Pacific Wide Free Trade Zone in Upcoming US Summit

Multimedia

Trade ministers with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meet this week in the western U.S. state of Montana. The meeting is one of a series leading up to an APEC summit in Hawaii in November.

In Hong Kong and other Asian mega cities business is the life blood that drives the daily hustle and bustle in one of the most successful capitalist markets in the world.  

It is a dynamism that relies heavily on exports.

Businessman Sunny Chai heads a manufacturing alliance in Hong Kong. He says removing barriers to trade must be among APEC's top priorities. "For member companies within the alliance, particularly those people who are selling raw materials or additives to materials for manufacturers within China, Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia, I believe those kinds of manufacturers and companies will greatly benefit," he said.

APEC by the Numbers

  • 21 member economies
  • 40 percent of world population
  • 55 percent of global gross domestic product
  • 43 percent of world trade

With a market of more than two and a half billion consumers, APEC's 21 member countries account for about 55 percent of the world's GDP (gross domestic product) and 43 percent of global trade.  

Economist Fred Bergsten says APEC's rise reflects the growing importance of the region. "Things have changed a lot, particularly the relative importance of China and the other Asian members of APEC.  But it's interesting APEC has in fact renewed the goals that were initially created back in the 1993-1994 start up of the APEC summits.  At that time the leaders agreed to create free trade and investment in the region by 2010 to 2020," he said.

Despite some progress in reducing tariffs, the goal of an Asia-Pacific wide free trade zone remains largely unfulfilled.

Bergsten says the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposed by the U.S. would level the playing field and create new opportunities on both sides of the Pacific. "The ASEAN countries [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] already have FTAs [free trade agreements] with each of the big northeast Asian countries: China, Korea,Japan. There are other intra-Asian agreements and all of those inherently discriminate against U.S. trade, thus U.S. business and particularly U.S. workers," he said.

Those hurdles include preferential treatment among some trading partners and uneven economic growth among member countries. Another is the currency dispute between the United States and China.

Despite Beijing's promise to make its currency more flexible, the yuan, or renmimbi, has gained only five percent since June.

The U.S. insists China's undervalued currency gives its exports an unfair advantage.

But Sunny Chai says Asian manufacturers are wary of the currency debate because any sudden moves could affect their bottom line. "So when the [China's] currency goes up, the entire direct cost goes up so this is not a good thing for the manufacturers," he said.

Despite ongoing differences, Bergsten says there is room for agreement.

At the trade ministers meeting in Montana beginning Thursday, discussions will range from export regulations to the development of incentives to promote trade in green technologies.

But Bergsten says broader initiatives are likely to take place later this year. "I think President Obama has a huge opportunity to assert leadership in the region, try to move APEC toward the goal of free trade in the region and I think there's a good chance there will be important progress toward that to report at the summit in Hawaii in November," he said.

APEC represents a significant forum for American companies wishing to expand. Together the APEC countries purchase 58 percent of all U.S. exports. Trade officials say continued growth in the region is crucial to the administration's plan to double U.S. exports and create two million jobs.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid