Bangkok, Thailand (August 27, 2010) – Business leaders from the Asia Pacific region have expressed concern over new trade protection measures that have emerged in the wake of the global financial crisis. Meeting in Bangkok this week, ABAC, the Business Advisory Council of the Asian Pacific Economic Program, a forum with a goal of supporting sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, renewed its call for member economies to take action to move towards establishing a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
APEC’s commitment to pursuing free and open trade and investment has increased employment and social stability and helped reduce poverty in the region, said ABAC Chair Gempachiro Aihara.
“It has become imperative for APEC to give renewed commitment to achieving deeper regional economic integration in view of economic uncertainty and the resulting protectionist pressures that threaten to reverse these gains.”
“In our view, the FTAAP is the most practical means to achieve this.”
ABAC said establishing an FTAAP was the best way of achieving “high-quality growth”. Although free and open trade and investment are still key to regional prosperity, APEC announced earlier this month its commitment to quality economic growth, selecting five attributes for action: balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and secure growth.
With the global economy still facing uncertainty and the Doha round of world trade talks stalled, ABAC also said a new push for greater regional economic integration was crucial to helping economies sustain their recoveries following the economic downturn.
ABAC will put forward their recommendations to APEC Leaders on the way forward for APEC during meetings in Yokohama in Japan in November.
ABAC includes representatives from the business communities in each of the APEC’s 21 member economies. Those representatives provide APEC Leaders with information on the priorities and concerns of the business sector. The third ABAC meeting was held from August 24-27 in Bangkok.