The Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, or FTAAP, is a proposal to create a free trade agreement among the 21 APEC economies. The U.S. government now publicly supports FTAAP, after opposing it earlier.
The Chamber strongly supports the principle of increasing trade and investment flows in the Asia Pacific region. The FTAAP proposal could help countries individually and collectively move towards greater integration and economic reform. It could:
- Jump start the stalled Doha Development Round talks;
- Put a brake on the spread of discriminatory regional and bilateral FTAs in Asia, including those that exclude the United States from the region's integration plans; and
- Keep the U.S. engaged in Asia.
Negotiating an FTAAP is a long-term (15-20 year) proposition, and it won't be easy to pull off. On the U.S. side, anti-trade and especially anti-China sentiment is an obvious impediment. In Asia, it isn't certain that China and Japan will be willing to negotiate a high standard FTA that includes most, if not all, economic sectors.
By starting to talk about what would be involved in launching negotiations, U.S. officials believe they will have an opportunity to begin pressing for issues such as more predictable investment regimes around the region, increased intellectual property rights protection, harmonized technical standards, unified customs procedures, liberalized financial services.
For more information on the FTAAP:
A Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific: An Idea with Merit, but Is It Feasible?