Japan’s Abe urges Apec: Scrap trade protectionism
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member economies to “call back” the growing trade protectionism in the region, in light of continuing talks toward a more transparent free trade and regional integration.
In a press briefing Thursday, Yasuhisa Kawamura, Abe’s spokesperson, shared concerns over the rise of trade protectionist policies on the back of overcapacity in certain economies. These policies aim to supposedly guard industries in their respective economies through restrictive tariffs.
The Apec economies currently account for nearly 72 percent of Japan’s exports and 62 percent of imports. About 68 percent of Japan’s direct investments go to Apec.
Kawamura said Abe has urged Apec to support the multilateral trade system, where the World Trade Organization plays a central role.
Abe, Kawamura said, has called for support for the different trade agreements, including the recently concluded Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, the proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The TPP and RCEP are both expected to create a new economic order and serve as a working base for the FTAAP—Apec’s long term vision for a single trade system in the region, which is expected to add about $2.5 trillion to the world economy by 2025.
The FTAAP, which is being led by China and the United States, is a bigger agreement expected to build on the liberalization gains in the region.
The Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) earlier said the TPP is expected to generate an additional $225 billion to the world economy by 2025, while the RCEP is estimated to generate some $645 billion.
The TPP is a landmark agreement that eliminates or reduces tariffs, lowers the cost of trade, and sets new and high standards for global trade while addressing next generation issues. It was envisioned to promote economic growth, create jobs, raise living standards, reduce poverty, promote good governance and enhance labor and environmental protections.
The 12 TPP members—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam—announced the conclusion of their negotiations in October.
The TPP is deemed the Philippines’ only chance to have a bilateral partnership with the US.
The RCEP, meanwhile, refers to a separate free trade agreement being negotiated among the 10 member states of the Asean and its six trading partners namely Japan, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
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