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APEC officials discuss possible free trade area

Update: February, 27/2017 - 10:12
Senior officials from APEC economies, as well as experts and scholars have discussed the possibility of establishing a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) along with its potential impacts and difficulties facing the process. — VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tấn

KHÁNH HÒA – Senior officials from APEC economies, as well as experts and scholars have discussed the possibility of establishing a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) along with its potential impacts and difficulties facing the process. 

The workshop on realising FTAAP was held in Nha Trang, in the south central province of Khánh Hòa, on Saturday as part of activities around the APEC First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) and related talks. 

The FTAAP was first mentioned in the statement of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Hà Nội in 2006. Last year, APEC leaders released the Lima Declaration on FTAAP, which emphasized the role of APEC in proposing contents related to such a free trade area with a view to gradually realising the idea. 

Besides the workshop, meetings were held during the day by nine committees and working groups, namely the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), Economic Committee (EC), Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS), Oceans and Fisheries Working Groups (OFWG), Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2), Competition Policy and Law Group (CPLG) and Market Access Group (MAG). 

The PPFS meeting looked at the implementation of long-term strategies, including the APEC strategic framework on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth, and the APEC programme on food security and climate change. 

Participants also gave ideas to the APEC statement that is scheduled to be discussed at the high-level dialogue on food security and sustainable agriculture adaptable to climate change slated for Cần Thơ in Việt Nam in August. 

Meanwhile, OFWG members debated a working plan for 2017 and reviewed co-operation activities related to sea and oceans recently. They also updated each other on the progress of several initiatives, including the enhancement of capacity to deal with maritime waste and the building of a tool set to measure ecological risks posed by climate change to aquatic resources, as well as the encouragement of private sector engagement in the preservation of maritime environment, sustainable fisheries and livelihood. 

At the same time, the MAG approved the agenda for their next meeting scheduled for August as part of the third SOM and related meetings in HCM City. 

Within the framework of the EC meeting, the Friends of the Chair on Strengthening Economic Legal Infrastructure focused on projects to reinforce the regional economic legal foundation, including the possibility of building an APEC co-operation framework on tackling online conflicts in transactions of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

On the day, the Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2) convened their last meetings, with cooperation projects reviewed and new initiatives given. 

The TWG agreed on the organization of a roundtable on high-level policies on sustainable tourism in Hạ Long City in June, while the ECSG listened to reports by some economies and international organizations on the development trend of electronic commerce. 

The Vietnamese delegation continued to show strong performance with proposals on an action plan for implementing the APEC strategic framework on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth, and the APEC programme on food security and climate change. 

Vietnamese officials also contributed ideas to the APEC manual on boosting sustainable tourism growth amidst climate change and the framework on facilitating cross-border electronic commerce.

Sustainable use of aquatic resources

Sustainable use and development of aquatic resources in Asia-Pacific was one of the priorities in APEC fisheries co-operation highlighted at the APEC Oceans and Fisheries Working Groups (OFWG) meeting in Nha Trang on the same day. 

The meeting also underscored the need to strengthen resilience of coastal communities against natural disasters, extreme climate conditions and complicated natural developments. 

Sustainable use and development of aquatic resources and ensured livelihood for coastal communities are also among priorities for Việt Nam, stated Trần Đình Luận, Vice Director of the Directorate of Fisheries, who was a Vietnamese delegate to the OFWG meeting. 

He noted that Việt Nam’s fisheries sector is operating on a smaller and less modern scale compared to that of other countries in the world, adding that the policies Việt Nam has implemented to ensure sustainable livelihood for fishermen have contributed to the economic growth in localities as well as the country. 

Meanwhile, Toshihiko Horiuchi from Japan said that it is crucial to improve capacity in supporting fishermen and women in coastal areas as well as the fisheries communities of APEC member economies. 

He stressed the need to help fishermen access markets and improve their products’ quality as well as exploit sea resources in a sustainable way. 

He held that APEC economies should strengthen the role of governments and local communities in managing sea areas, thus ensuring sustainable exploitation. The application of science and technology will also help increase productivity and ensure sustainable fishing, he added. 

During the meeting, the Japanese delegation proposed various measures to develop fisheries and encourage APEC economies to build policies on fisheries. — VNS

 

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