Thailand will make free trade an APEC priority

As the Chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) next year, Thailand aims to prioritize progress on the formation of the long-delayed Free-Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The FTAAP was first proposed at APEC in 2006, and progress was made in 2014 when the group endorsed a roadmap to guide the creation of the Free Trade Area.

“APEC is implementing a strategic study on issues related to the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific,” as mentioned on its website. “The study will provide an analysis of potential economic and social benefits and costs, analyze the various pathways towards a Free Trade Area and identify challenges economies may face in realizing this goal.”

Thani Thongphakdi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the concept of the FTAAP will be updated as many changes have taken place in recent years and they need to be factored in.

“We need to discuss new dimensions, focusing on our Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy so as to reach the global goal of sustainable development,” Thani added.

Climate change and sustainability are the issues that have overtime gained greater importance among both governments and businesses. Each country in APEC is at a different level of development and readiness to meet the standards and requirements of the proposed FTAAP.

Thani said that while Thailand will do everything it could to move the process forward, the establishment of the FTAAP would take time and more talks are needed to get all countries on the same page.

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