横浜APEC 統合ビジョンの具体化着実に

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum アジア太平洋経済協力会議(APEC)
Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific(FTAAP) アジア太平洋自由貿易地域(FTAAP)
Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) 環太平洋経済連携協定(TPP)

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2010)
Concrete steps needed to realize APEC vision
横浜APEC 統合ビジョンの具体化着実に(11月16日付・読売社説)

Asia-Pacific nations have begun to move toward regional economic integration. High hurdles stand before them, but their attempt to expand a free trade area to foster economic growth is worthy of note.

The recent summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Yokohama, attended by leaders from 21 nations and territories including the United States and China, has closed after adopting a declaration called the "Yokohama Vision."

Compiled by Japan, which served as APEC chair for the first time in 15 years, the declaration contained the first use of the term open "community" in reference to APEC's future vision. It was a breakthrough for the forum, which started as a loosely bound framework, that its members agreed to pursue comprehensive economic cooperation.

APEC represents a center for world growth, as its member economies account for 50 percent of the world's gross domestic product and 40 percent of its population. The latest agreement is expected to enhance its presence on the global stage.


TPP key to free trade area

One of the key APEC initiatives stipulated in the summit declaration is the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

This framework is aimed at not only liberalizing trade and investment but also strengthening cooperation over a wider scope, such as the elimination of nontariff barriers, regulatory reform and smoother logistics.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is widely seen as the most important step toward that goal. Nine nations, including the United States and Australia, already have started negotiations for a TPP agreement, and intend to reach a final pact in November next year.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan participated in a TPP summit meeting as an observer and formally expressed this country's intention to start talks with countries involved in TPP negotiations. Agricultural groups and some others oppose trade liberalization, but we think Japan should decide to join the negotiations as soon as possible while taking measures to strengthen the competitiveness of its agriculture sector.

China is quite cautious about the TPP led by the United States, which aims to expand its exports to the Asia region. This is because China has advocated the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Three--Japan, China and South Korea.

There is expected to be a rough tug-of-war between the United States and China over the concrete steps to be taken toward a free trade area, with the two nations' currency strategies also affecting the issue.


'Heisei opening' needed

There are significant gaps among different APEC economies, and some observers are uncertain whether the FTAAP can be realized.

Given this situation, Japan bears grave responsibilities as APEC chair. It must actively promote a so-called Heisei era opening of the nation and exercise leadership in implementing steps to liberalize trade.

It is of great significance that APEC hammered out a growth strategy that includes measures to rectify imbalances and address environmental problems. Economic reinvigoration of this region as a whole is indispensable for a full-fledged recovery of the world economy.

APEC members should also be hailed for their pledge in the declaration to resist protectionism.

The bold Yokohama Vision must not end up as just pie in the sky.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 16, 2010)
(2010年11月16日01時53分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-11-17 06:35 | 英字新聞

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