IntroductionAPEC's realization of the FTAAP has accelerated with the inclusion in the 2014 APEC Leaders' Declaration of "The Beijing Roadmap for APEC's Contribution to the Realization of the FTAAP." In addition, the CTI's REI FotC Group has formed a task force in early 2015 to undertake the FTAAP collective strategic study. In light of APEC's desire to work seriously to advance the FTAAP, the analysis of APEC's thinking on the FTAAP are warranted. The article's purpose is to examine the Beijing FTAAP Roadmap and its relevance for the collective strategic study. Finally, the article will offer suggestions to advance the FTAAP.
The APEC Beijing FTAAP RoadmapFrom the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the APEC Leaders have finally generated a clear roadmap for realizing the FTAAP. The document summarizes APEC's views regarding the FTAAP over the years. It mentions that APEC agreed to examine the FTAAP idea as a long-term prospect in 2006. Furthermore, in 2010, APEC Leaders had generated the notion of "Pathways to FTAAP." The 2010 idea was that an FTAAP should be realized as a comprehensive free trade agreement that will be built through regional undertakings, such as ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6 and the TransPacific Partnership (TPP). Thus APEC will make important contribution as an incubator of the FTAAP (APEC 2014).
In addition, the Beijing Roadmap has stated the latest APEC Leaders' views on the FTAAP (APEC 2014):
● The FTAAP will support and complement the multilateral trading system.
● The FTAAP should be comprehensive, high quality and address "next generation" trade and investment issues.
● APEC will attain the Bogor Goals by 2020. The Bogor Goals will advance APEC's contribution to the eventual realization of the FTAAP.
● The FTAAP will be realized outside of APEC, parallel with the APEC process. APEC should maintain its non-binding and voluntary cooperation principles.
● The FTAAP should aim to minimize any negative effects resulting from the proliferation of regional and bilateral RTAs/FTAs. Greater efforts should be made to concluding the possible pathways to the FTAAP, including the TPP and RCEP.
● APEC will assist APEC economies with participating in ongoing regional undertakings and preparation for the realization of the FTAAP.
Analyzing the APEC Beijing FTAAP RoadmapSupporting the Multilateral Trading System
Leaders have stated that the FTAAP will be capable of supporting and complementing the multilateral trading system. APEC has always expressed support for the multilateral trading system. The open regionalism idea of APEC is the result of APEC's desire to strengthen APEC's regional economic integration and the WTO. Therefore, it is important for APEC Leaders to continue to express their backing for the WTO. However, there is the need for APEC to relate how the FTAAP will support the multilateral trading system. The present way is to state APEC's support for the WTO and that the FTAAP will support the multilateral trading system. Another way would be for APEC to announce that APEC would be willing to add more WTO members to APEC. In doing so, the FTAAP would become larger and the FTAAP would be able to promote the inclusive and trade liberalizing spirit of the multilateral trading system.
Negotiating Outside of APEC
The idea that the FTAAP will be negotiated outside of APEC but will remain parallel with the APEC process is understandable. Leaders have stated that APEC will continue to adhere to the non-binding and voluntary principles. Since a free trade agreement (FTA) is binding in nature, it is only logical that the FTAAP will be negotiated outside of APEC. Leaders are implying that the FTAAP could be a FTA, so that the FTAAP is to be negotiated outside of APEC. With regard to the idea that the FTAAP will be paralleled with the APEC process, Leaders are conveying the message that APEC will continue to provide guidance to the FTAAP. In order to show that APEC will play a major role in the realization of the FTAAP, APEC will need to ensure that all APEC members are also members of the FTAAP. All APEC members have reached the consensus to promote the FTAAP, so that the development of the FTAAP, as a FTA, should also entail the participation by all APEC members.
Advancing the Pathways to the FTAAP
The Leaders' view that greater efforts must be made to advance the pathways to the FTAAP, consisting of the TPP and the RCEP, is valid. The reason is that the TPP and the RCEP are the two most viable pathways to the FTAAP. Thus the conclusion of the current TPP and the RCEP negotiations would push forward the advancement of the FTAAP. The APEC members of the two pathways could play the major role of ensuring the TPP and the RCEP are the pathways to the FTAAP. There is the possibility that a race would take place between the TPP and the RCEP to see which one of them is more suitable to be the only one pathway to the FTAAP. The reason is that the TPP and RCEP could be interested in enlarging their membership in the future, so as to attain greater economic benefits from a larger free trade area.
Another possibility is that both the TPP and the RCEP would be considered by APEC to be viable pathways to the FTAAP. The fact that APEC has stated that the TPP and the RCEP are pathways to the FTAAP implies that APEC would like to include both FTAs in the advancement of the FTAAP. Therefore, it may not be a race between the TPP and the RCEP. If the FTAAP would be negotiated as a FTA, one way for the FTAAP to incorporate both the TPP and the RCEP would be for APEC to choose some parts of the TPP and some parts from the RCEP. APEC could develop the guidelines for the selection process. For example, one guideline would follow the Bogor Goals spirit of having two different deadlines for achieving free trade, one for developed economies and another one for developing economies. Another guideline would state that all of the Chapters in the TPP and the RCEP would be included in the FTAAP. In addition, a guideline for implementing capacity building programs to assist developing economies would also be developed.
SuggestionsAn important suggestion is that the FTAAP collective strategic study should ensure that it considers the APEC Leaders' views on the FTAAP that are stated in the 2014 APEC Beijing FTAAP Roadmap and are aforementioned. In doing so, APEC's position on the FTAAP will become clearer, so that the realization of the FTAAP will be advanced.
Specifically, it is suggested that the FTAAP collective strategic study incorporates the suggestions that are stated below:
● APEC would need to add more WTO members to APEC. In doing so, the FTAAP would become larger and the FTAAP would be able to promote the inclusive and trade liberalizing spirit of the multilateral trading system. Furthermore, the new APEC members would be WTO members that touch the Pacific Ocean or share borders with APEC members.
● APEC would need to state clearly that the FTAAP would be realized in the form of a FTA. The Beijing FTAAP Roadmap has mentioned that the FTAAP will be negotiated outside of APEC. In doing so, APEC members could begin to make preparations. In addition, APEC must ensure that all APEC members are also members of the FTAAP, since APEC has reached the consensus to achieve the FTAAP. The economic benefits to APEC would be substantial when all APEC members are participating in the FTAAP.
● APEC would ensure that the TPP and the RCEP are pathways to the FTAAP. APEC's FTAAP agreement could take some parts from the TPP and some parts from the RCEP. Some guidelines could be developed. One guideline could state that the developed economies and developing economies would have different deadlines, just like the Bogor Goals. Another guideline could relate that the FTAAP would include all of the chapters in the TPP and the RCEP. Furthermore, a guideline for the implementation of capacity building programs to assist developing economies would be developed.