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APEC meeting vital to progress on Asia-Pacific free-trade zone, says Mexican expert

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-15 17:27

MEXICO CITY - The upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, to be held in Lima, Peru later this week, is vital to establishing a free-trade zone in the area to promote integration and globalization, a Mexican expert has said.

Ulises Granados, an expert in international relations and coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Studies Program at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), made the remarks during an interview with Xinhua as the APEC Economic Leaders' Week kicked off on Monday.

"I think that at this coming meeting, there will certainly be several advances on matters of interest, and certainly also other matters of a political nature will be highlighted, such as the recent US presidential election," said Granados.

At the meeting, APEC's 21 member economies are expected to lay the groundwork for technical negotiations on a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, or FTAAP, as agreed at the 2014 APEC leaders' meeting held in Beijing, China.

APEC's economic integration, within the framework of the FTAAP, is set to make trade more efficient in the region, which accounts for some 57 percent of the world's gross domestic product and 49 percent of all international trade flows.

"It represents an enormous potential market," said Granados, "the bloc has advanced towards its main goals, which are to ease trade, enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies and increase the flow of trade in services."

"If the agreement is reached, it will without a doubt generate greater benefits," he added.

This year's meeting, Granados noted, follows up on earlier commitments made in the 1994 Leaders' Declaration issued in Bogor, Indonesia.

In that document, APEC members outlined their vision of an Asia-Pacific free-trade and investment zone, and pledged to take the measures needed to liberalize and facilitate trade, by 2010 for the developed members, and by 2020 for the developing economies.

Members are also set to discuss reducing tariffs on services to spur regional trade and using infrastructure development to stimulate growth.

"I firmly believe the 21 member economies will state the measures they should adopt amid the (global economic) slowdown, which should be in keeping with the conclusions reached at the G20, and I am sure that what will stand out is the interest in promoting greater integration ... in the Asia-Pacific through the creation of a free-trade area," Granados said.

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