US wants APEC-wide free trade pact

Tokyo, November 5:

The United States has sounded out its Asian and Pacific partners on the possibility of creating a regional free trade agreement as a ‘middle- and long-term’ objective, a press report stated today. The US administration would seek an agreement on its regional FTA proposal during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hanoi on November 18-19, the newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported. The 21-nation APEC was launched in 1989 under the initiative of Japan, Australia and other countries, with the US one of its key members.

The US State Department had approached the Japanese foreign and trade ministries in October and said Washington wanted to discuss the possibility of an APEC-wide FTA, the daily quoted Japanese government sources as saying. The State Department said a multi-lateral FTA in the As-ia-Pacific region “may not be easy, but is important as a middle-and long-term objective”, the daily reported.