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Asia-Pacific Business Leaders Commit To FTAAP

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

31 August 2010

The Business Advisory Council (ABAC) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has affirmed its belief that making progress on a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) presents the best strategy for achieving regional growth.

At its third meeting in Bangkok recently, ABAC, which brings together up to three business leaders from each of APEC's 21 economies, called on APEC leaders to make the necessary decisions on possible pathways to achieve an FTAAP. They expressed deep concern over new forms of protectionism arising from economic instability.

"It has become imperative for APEC to give renewed commitment to achieving deeper regional economic integration in view of economic uncertainty and the resulting protectionist pressures that threaten to reverse these gains" said ABAC chair, Gempachiro Aihara. "In our view, the FTAAP is the most practical means to achieve this."

ABAC has been advocating the concept of an FTAAP since 2004 and, in 2006, APEC leaders instructed APEC officials to examine various options for regional economic integration including an FTAAP. Since then, progress has been modest.

ABAC also concluded that accelerating the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and micro-enterprises, through policies which promote capacity building and financial inclusion, can enhance the quality of economic integration, considering that they make up the majority of businesses in the region.

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