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APEC Third Senior Officials’ Meeting and Related Meetings discuss FTAAP multi-year workplan for free and open trade and investment for all

The second week of the Third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3) in Chiang Mai will be marked by many important APEC sub-fora discussions to promote free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. A particular focus is on driving sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which is one of the key priorities for APEC 2022, under the theme of “Open. Connect. Balance.” with the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy Model as the overarching thinking.

One of the most important agendas for trade and investment in SOM3 is to carry on the refreshed conversation on the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) in the post-COVID-19 context. Building on the successful outcome of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting in May 2022, the Committee of Trade and Investment (CTI) will convene a meeting on 26-27 August to discuss the development of FTAAP multi-year work plan, with a view to submitting it for endorsement at the APEC Ministerial Meeting in November. The FTAAP multi-year work plan will be an important achievement of APEC 2022. It will establish a long-term framework for APEC to continue advancing the FTAAP agenda, with an aim to promote free and open Asia-Pacific economy that offers trade and investment opportunities for all.

The CTI will also discuss FTAAP capacity building programmes, aimed at narrowing the gap between APEC member economies in different stages of development. CTI experts will plan a series of work programmes to exchange knowledge, best-practices and experiences among APEC members on important topics related to advancing regional economic integration, such as labour-related provisions in FTAs/RTAs, regulating solid waste trade for economic sustainability, promoting MSME engagement in e-commerce on regulatory procedures for low value shipments.

Knowledge and experiences sharing is a vital mechanism for APEC to carry out its role as an incubator of ideas conducive to sound economic policy options. In SOM3, many APEC sub-fora will organise workshops and dialogues for key stakeholders such as the business sector, academia and international organisations to discuss various topics instrumental to promoting sustainable and inclusive economic recovery. For example, last week, the APEC Investment Experts’ Group hosted a workshop on government strategies to attract green FDI and promote sustainable infrastructure. This week, the APEC Group of Services will organise a dialogue on women and services to promote inclusivity in this sector. It will also host a private-public dialogue on logistics services to exchange views on the challenges faced by firms operating in this sector, including express delivery, shipping, air transport and port operations. These workshops and dialogues allow an insight into first-hand experiences of private sector, which in turn enables APEC’s policymakers to respond to their real needs and address their challenges effectively.

Under the “Open” priority of APEC 2022, Thailand seeks to open the region to all trade and investment opportunities, where all businesses can benefit from a more open and conducive business environment. The FTAAP agenda and its multi-year work plan, which is the key deliverable under this priority, will contribute to advancing the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 for an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community.