News / Asia

Asian Leaders Discuss Vast Free Trade Region

Irwin Loy
Asian leaders say they will launch negotiations into what could become a massive free trade area. On Tuesday, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed to launch discussions on a possible free-trade zone that could link its economies with those of China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

ASEAN leaders officially launched negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, during the last day of the leaders' summit in Cambodia Tuesday. By seeking to link major economies including China and India, with those of Southeast Asia, the move could be a step toward creating a significant, new trading bloc.

Although human rights issues and maritime disputes have been topics of discussion during these meetings, regional leaders have sought to put the spotlight on trade.

China has recently taken a renewed interest in pushing forward with talks for the initiative. Observers say this could be a reaction to the ongoing U.S. strategic "pivot" toward Asia.

Since the United States does not have a free trade agreement with ASEAN, it is not eligible to join talks on RCEP.  Instead, Washington is pursuing a separate free trade area called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. That formation does not include China.

"I think it's very important," said Ernie Bower, who is with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It's extremely important right now because it's our only current trade engagement with Asia in terms of a new agreement. So we have FTAs with Australia, Singapore & Korea and a TPP will get us in the game in terms of regional trade opening agreements. But it is itself not sufficient. We're going to have to do more."

The TPP may not be ASEAN-based, but U.S. President Barack Obama has spent time during this week's summit discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership with potential members.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's country is involved in talks on both RCEP and the TPP. She says the strategy is not about choosing a U.S.-involved trade agreement over an ASEAN or China-focused pact.

"Getting economic integration which benefits Australia in our region is a pretty hard thing to do," said Gillard.  "So any opportunity we've got to prosecute that agenda.  So from our perspective, it makes sense to be involved in both and to be maximizing our efforts in both."

Reports say that talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership could start as early as next year.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid