'World's biggest free trade area' to be meeting's focus

'World's biggest free trade area' to be meeting's focus

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit will chair four days of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings that have as part of their agenda the ambitious goal of creating the world's biggest free trade area.

Mr Jurin said on Wednesday he inspected preparations for the Apec Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting 2022 being held in Bangkok fromThursday until Sunday.

The trade meeting will be attended by members of 21 economic areas. The session forms an integral part of the Apec summit to be held in November.

Mr Jurin said the meeting agenda will focus on a plan to transition Apec into the so-called Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) by 2040.

If successful, the FTAAP would emerge as the world's biggest free trade area.

As chair of the trade meeting, Thailand will push the plan along to see it progress effectively.

"The FTAAP encompasses areas that are home to 2.9 billion people, accounting for 38% of the global population," the minister said.

"The combined gross domestic product is worth $52 trillion or 1,768 trillion baht, which is equivalent to 62% of the world's GDP."

If the plan materialises, the trade volume among Apec member countries would jump by somewhere between 200-400%, he added.

Mr Jurin said the meeting would also adhere to the BCG (Bio-Circular-Green) economy model to help drive forward micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, which are seen as the foundation of Thailand's economic development.

Thailand will also hold bilateral talks with the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong and China, which is joining the meeting remotely, Mr Jurin added.

Meanwhile, the cabinet has approved a 400-million-baht budget for the Public Relations Department (PRD) to promote the Apec summit.

A subcommittee, to be headed by PM's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai, aims to publicise the government's efforts via online and offline content.

The PR campaign will include hosting seminars, online initiatives, TV and radio programmes.

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