Asia Pacific Integration – trade and economic dimensions

by | Nov 15, 2013 | Uncategorized

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EXTRACTS FROM NZUS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S SPEECH TO NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS – Wednesday 13 November 2013

Trade negotiators tend to take a rather disparaging view of APEC which operates as a voluntary and non-binding arrangement.  However unsatisfactory APEC’s processes are, the organisation exists and has a history of achievement.  It is the glue which holds the framework of regional cooperation together.

China, as the incoming APEC Chair for 2014, has already spoken about ensuring that APEC provides a forum where economies can share information about negotiating processes.

India is not part of APEC but is a participant in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

It seems to me inevitable therefore that a way will have to be found to include India, along with other aspirant economies like Colombia in APEC at some point soon – if only to ensure that the wider region moves ahead cohesively in the future.

Despite the continuing reluctance of the APEC economies to contemplate anything that might resemble an actual decision to do something by date certain, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) concept continues to inform the direction in which much of APEC’s work is said to be headed.

Japan’s participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, along with Canada and Mexico, has changed the game not just for New Zealand but for all the participants in TPP by increasing significantly the economic gains from the expansion beyond the initial nine.

I think there can be little doubt that TPP, as the more advanced process, will deliver an outcome before RCEP.

When that might be is uncertain at best, but my guess is the negotiation will be concluded if not by the end of this year, then in the first half of next year.

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