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Toward a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific

Policy Briefs 07-2


At their latest annual summit in Vietnam in November 2006, the leaders of the 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum agreed to "seriously consider" negotiating a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). The FTAAP initiative may well turn out to be the best, or perhaps only, way to catalyze a substantively successful Doha Round. If it cannot do that, an FTAAP can still offer a Plan B to restore the momentum of trade liberalization, prevent further proliferation of bilateral and subregional preferential trade arrangements, avoid renewed risk of "drawing a line down the middle of the Pacific," channel the US-China economic conflict into a more constructive, less confrontational context, and revitalize APEC itself. Perhaps most important, an FTAAP could maintain US engagement in Asian, and even global, trade relations by providing a basis for congressional extension of trade promotion authority in mid-2007 and a negotiating momentum that the next US president in early 2009 will feel compelled to maintain.

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