All 21 economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are striving for closer cooperation in trade and investment as it is a driving force for development amid rising anti- globalization and protectionism, an APEC official said on Tuesday.
During the two-day APEC 2017 senior officials' meeting (SOM) which concluded on Tuesday in Vietnam's central Da Nang city, senior officials from the economies discussed measures to speed up free, open trade and investment, which will be further touched upon or endorsed by APEC ministers and leaders in the next few days, Bui Thanh Son, Vietnamese vice minister of foreign affairs and APEC 2017 SOM Chair, told a press conference.
"Trade liberalization is a core issue in APEC cooperation, and the progress of APEC cooperation has clearly shown that it is a leading cooperation mechanism in the Asia-Pacific region," Son said, noting that the cooperation has brought about encouraging results, with tariffs dropping to 4-5 percent from nearly 20 percent.
The senior officials agreed to propose the APEC ministers and leaders consider endorsing documents of strategic significance which are related to APEC 2017 theme and its four priorities, Son said, noting that the documents will put forth orientations for cooperation in Asia-Pacific in the coming years.
Under the theme of "Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future," Vietnam has set four priorities during its rotating APEC chairmanship - promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; deepening regional economic integration; strengthening micro, small and medium enterprises' competitiveness and innovation in the digital age; and enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change.
APEC leaders at their upcoming summit are expected to center their discussions on four issues, including creation of new drivers for Asia-Pacific economic integration, partly by supporting the multilateral trading system and pushing forward free and open trade and investment, an APEC official told Xinhua on Tuesday.
"I hope that APEC leaders will reiterate their commitment to realize the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the region by 2020 by taking concrete measures to remove existing barriers, especially non-tariff ones," said the official who declined to be named.
The senior officials from 21 APEC members also expressed their support for the eventual establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).