A new agenda for APEC : setting up the 'building blocks' of free trade

Naya, Seiji
Iboshi, Pearl Imada
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Honolulu: East-West Center
The recent spectacular economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region has been fueled by the increasing trade and investment activities among nations of the region. For this to continue, barriers to trade and investment must fall more than they already have, but members of the new Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum are divided on how to accomplish this goal. U.S. policy makers and their allies want to concentrate on legalistic agreements and timetables for the rapid reduction of trade barriers. Some Asian policymakers fear this approach will result in establishment of a free trade area, which they oppose; they favor a more evolutionary course. APEC can help bring these two approaches together by trying to foster agreement on a number of policies that will reduce trade and investment barriers. Whatever the outcome of the broader debate, setting up these "building blocks" of free trade can help move the countries of the region steadily toward closer economic cooperation.
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