Apec’s Bollard: Talks unlikely to lead to top-notch trade pact
SINGAPORE: Talks on an Asia trade pact are unlikely to lead to a top-notch deal, according to AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) secretariat chief Alan Bollard, even if wrapping it up quickly would send a message that the nations still prioritise free trade.
“The 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) may be signed this year, which would be a step forward but it’s not going to be a high level agreement,” said Bollard yesterday.
The RCEP has taken on added importance after United States President Donald Trump withdrew the US from a Pacific deal.
His actions threw the future of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a deal that did not include China — into doubt, and his protectionist rhetoric more broadly has sparked concern about the outlook for globalisation and free trade.
The RCEP is more of a traditional trade pact than the TPP — which covered issues including intellectual property and stateowned enterprises.
Singapore’s Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang said yesterday the RCEP talks were progressing well but can move faster, a signal that differences remain among nations involved.
Bollard said a meeting in Vietnam of Apec trade ministers this month would be a chance for member nations to promote free trade and regional economic integration. Bloomberg