APEC works as coordination platform for Asia-Pacific region

Updated: 2014-11-07 15:38


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APEC works as coordination platform for Asia-Pacific region
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WASHINGTON -- In a time of weak global recovery, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gatherings in Beijing are expected to improve coordination among economies in the region and help them discuss issues, such as trade integration, infrastructure investment, and economic growth boosting, an expert from a US think tank told Xinhua in a recent interview.


Yukon Huang, a senior associate with the Asia Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Xinhua that trade integration will be high on the agenda during the APEC meetings, in view of different kinds of trade negotiations under way in the region.

At present, there are two major trade negotiations in the region, the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the participation of China, and the ASEAN-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) without the United States.

According to Huang, it does not make sense that the two major players in the region, China and the United States, did not participate in a same trade package, as China is a dominant economic and trading partner in Asia, while the United States is the world's largest economy and the largest recipient of goods made in Asia.

In this sense, the APEC meetings will set up a platform for the two sides to discuss "how to bring these paths close together in a realistic way and how to recognize the legitimate interests of everybody," said Huang, adding that "it's logic for APEC to figure out a way to coordinate these different kinds of trade negotiations, and that is what APEC is designed for."

In regard to China's effort to promote Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), Huang considered it a "possible way to integrate TPP and RCEP," but said that the United States might want to discuss the FTAAP in a much later time, as its focus now was on the TPP and the negotiations turned out to be difficult in making progress.

On how to integrate these trade negotiations, the expert suggested inviting China as an observer to the TPP and having the country participate in discussions so as to pave way for China to join the TPP at an appropriate time. He said the same principle can also be applied to the RCEP, which can bring the United States as observer and let Washington understand how the RCEP discussions are going.


Infrastructure investment will be another topic the APEC meetings are going to touch upon, as many economists believe economic growth can be supported by the infrastructure investment, especially against the backdrop of slowing world economy, according to Huang. In this regard, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is also on the agenda, said the expert.

As for the controversies of the AIIB, Huang said that it's not in America's interest to discourage the establishment of a multilateral development bank. The expert suggested a further step for the bank, saying the United States should be "part of the board," as it's logical for the world's largest economy and a major player in Asia to be primary shareholders of an institute.

He said that it's a false worry that the AIIB might undercut conditions and policies of existing multilateral development banks, such as Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank, because a development bank should stick to high standards to ensure their projects successful and protect the interests of investors.

According to the expert, the AIIB should not be seen as a competitor, as it will be complementary to the ADB and the World Bank. He said that the AIIB can work in partnership with these institutions in joint financing. By doing so, they can help finance larger projects, share more experiences and benefit "everybody."

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