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Vietnam Today

APEC urged to forge ahead with trade, investment liberalization

Released at: 14:41, 17/05/2017 APEC Viet Nam 2017

APEC urged to forge ahead with trade, investment liberalization

Mr. Vu Khoan (R). Photo: apec2017.vn

Progress in tariff elimination is now hindered by protectionism and non-tariff barriers in several APEC member economies, former Deputy Prime Minister tells reporters.

by Nguyen Quoc

The APEC forum needs to hold aloft the flag of trade and investment liberalization despite the fact that there remains skepticism about globalization and protectionism in several member economies, former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan, who was also Chairman of the APEC 2006 National Committee, told reporters on the sidelines of the “Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on APEC toward 2020 and Beyond” held in Hanoi on May 16.

At their summit in Bogor, Indonesia, in 1994, APEC economic leaders set a deadline for realizing free and open trade and investment goals, known as the Bogor Goals, for developed member economies by 2010 and developing economies by 2020.

In the 23 years since, APEC has made impressive achievements in trade and investment liberalization.

According to the Second-term Review of APEC’s Progress Towards the Bogor Goals, released in 2016 and quoted by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), the current level of trade and investment liberalization and open markets has surpassed the level in 1994.

The Asia-Pacific region’s annual trade growth was 7.8 per cent between 1994 and 2015, reaching $16.5 trillion in 2014, while the bloc’s inner trade value grew by four-fold. Tariffs on average had been slashed by half, from 11 per cent in 1996 down to just 5 per cent in 2015.

APEC’s trade liberalization was also evidenced by a rapid increase in the number of free trade agreements (FTAs) and regional trade agreements (RTAs) struck. From 1996 to 2015, the number of FTAs and RTAs coming into force increased from 22 to 152, of which 62 were signed among APEC members.

However, APEC members are facing a wide range of challenges in realizing the Bogor Goals on schedule as there are only three years left and the global economy has experienced various changes since 1994. The global economy has recovered only slowly after the financial crisis in 2008 triggered sluggish trade growth in the region.

Mr. Vu Khoan was quoted by VNA as telling reporters that the progress in tariff elimination is now hindered by protectionism and non-tariff barriers in several APEC member economies, especially in agriculture, obstructing the process of trade liberalization and economic connectivity in the region. But the common trend will overcome, he said, adding that if all of APEC advocates trade liberalization, protectionism will be pushed back.

He forecast that, in the future, APEC will have to rely upon three pillars: trade liberalization, digital technology promotion, and response to climate change. These pillars will support each other and help APEC uphold its role, he explained.

As the host of APEC Year 2017, Vietnam has included the acceleration of the Bogor Goals into the list of important priorities on the agenda. The country has worked closely with other member economies to deploy initiatives in order to remove obstacles mentioned in the Second-term Review of APEC’s Progress Towards the Bogor Goals.

These will be a solid foundation for APEC to build and shape its operational orientations after 2020, focusing on the broader goals of trade and investment liberalization in a bid to effectively cope with emerging challenges such as innovative, inclusive, and sustainable growth, and e-commerce, among others.

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