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Asia-Pacific free trade zone proposed
Updated: 2004-04-26 14:50

People from the business circle proposed in Shanghai Sunday to establish a larger free trade zone in the Asian-Pacific area to speed up local economic growth.

Many of the 230-plus business people attending a forum here showed unprecedented interest in establishing a free trade zone in Asia-Pacific region.

The establishment of a free trade zone in Asia-Pacific will encourage the region to "emerge as the major economic hub" in the world, Yong-Sung Park, chairman of Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said at the Asian-Pacific Business Forum.

Daniel Shih, Motorola Corporate Vice President and President of Motorola (China) Electronics Ltd., said with the saturation of markets in European and American countries, Asia-Pacific markets are becoming increasingly competent in terms of consuming power. Therefore, it is possible and necessary to further strengthen cooperation in the region.

Asia-Pacific countries are at various levels during developing process, and many of them are still agriculture economies. To enhance the economic cooperation in the region will effectively benefit the region as a whole, said Sukanto Tanoto, chief executive officer of Raja Garuda Mas International Pte Ltd of Singapore.

Some participants of the forum said Asian countries each has their own advantages in areas of economy, resource and cultural tradition.

They agreed that while north Asia can inject financial and technology support to south and west Asia, the latter can provide their rich natural resources and energy to north Asia in return.

By doing so, the region could integrate its tangible and intangible assets, Danial Shih said.

Robert David John Scollay, director of the APEC study center with the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said the failure in the new round of world trade talks has to some extent encouraged many countries and regions to seek bilateral free trade agreements instead.

As a result, bilateral free trade zone would exclude less competent countries from preferential policies in imports and exports. To build up a regional or sub-regional free trade zone can reduce the unfairness in international trade, and thus to generate a broader market, he said.

However, many experts have realized the complexity of establishing a broader free trade zone. Zhang Yansheng, an expert working for the State Development and Reform Commission of China, said big economies should play more active roles in promoting the set up of the regional free trade zone, which means they should well justify their positions.

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