Apec hails progress on free-trade area

Apec hails progress on free-trade area

Prayut hails summit as success for region

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hands a ceremonial chalom (a round bamboo basket) to US Vice President Kamala Harris at the conclusion of the Apec summit at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok on Saturday. The US will host next year's Apec summit.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hands a ceremonial chalom (a round bamboo basket) to US Vice President Kamala Harris at the conclusion of the Apec summit at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok on Saturday. The US will host next year's Apec summit.

All 21 leaders from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member countries and economic zones have decided to push the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), a regional economic integration.

The resolution is one of 23 items agreed in the 2022 Apec Leader's Declaration on Sunday, as the 29th Apec summit in Bangkok closed. Thailand passes the baton to the United States as host of the Apec next year.

All Apec leaders recognised the useful contributions of the Lima Declaration and the Beijing Roadmap in progressing the FTAAP agenda, the declaration said.

"We welcome the advancement of this agenda this year through a refreshed conversation on the FTAAP in the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

"We will continue to build on this momentum towards high quality and comprehensive regional undertakings through the FTAAP Agenda Work Plan. We task officials to report progress in carrying out the Work Plan to the Apec Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in the following years.

"At the same time, we will strengthen our engagement with stakeholders, including the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac) and increase public-private sector dialogues.

"We note with appreciation of Abac's recommendations in advancing the FTAAP Work Programs.

"We commend the public and private sector collaboration between the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) and Abac, which underscores Apec's emphasis on advancing an inclusive economic development.

"We will also continue our efforts in capacity building to improve trade negotiation skills of economies," the declaration said.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Friday Thailand had put forward FTAAP at the Apec Economic Leaders' Meeting to push regional trade and support the multilateral trading system.

He said Thailand also proposed the FTAAP 4-year workplan (2023-2026) which incorporates shared interests among Apec member economies, such as traditional trade, emerging trade, and the economic recovery.

FTAAP aims to promote trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific, minimise trade and investment obstacles, enhance the competitiveness of Apec economies, and narrow the gap between Apec members in different stages of development.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government also touted its bio-circular-green (BCG) economic model and fulfillment of the overarching theme of "Open. Connect. Balance."

At the conclusion of the two-day summit yesterday, Gen Prayut conveyed his gratitude to Their Majesties the King and Queen for granting an audience to the Apec leaders at the Grand Palace.

He said the 29th Apec summit was a tremendous success for all member countries, which worked collectively for the growth and future of the Asia-Pacific region.

Thailand welcomed more than 5,000 leaders, delegates and media crew covering the summit.

It marks the first time in four years that the leaders have met face-to-face in the Apec context following the pandemic.

Two special guests of the government, who are from non-Apec member countries, also turned up for the summit: French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

The Apec leaders held talks with the private sector and the Apec Business Advisory Council.

Gen Prayut also received input from the Apec Voices of the Future, a platform for "Youth Voice" held on the margins of the Apec Leaders' Meeting.

The summit also raised for discussion the global nuclear threat. As host of the summit, Thailand expressed concern about its ramifications, especially on the economy.

Thailand stands ready to work closely with other countries in resolving the issue, Gen Prayut said.

The BCG model economy is being driven under the theme of "Open. Connect. Balance," which is producing results, he said.

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