China is proposing a feasibility study into a mega free trade agreement (FTA) for the Asia-Pacific region to unify disparate standards and regulations, China Daily reported Thursday.
A proposal to establish a working group to examine the idea has received responses from members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, Wang Shouwen, an assistant commerce minister, was quoted as saying.
The working group will decide whether to launch formal talks.
China is backing a mega deal under the APEC framework to ease the burden on businesses struggling to comply with many flourishing FTAs, the report said.
FTAs have flourished in recent years, with more than 200 reported to the World Trade Organization, the report said.
Among these is a 12-nation trade pact led by the United States and the a 16-nation bloc comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
“Having too many FTAs in the region would set up different standards and create a disorganized tangle of bilateral trade deals and thus hinder regional businesses,” Wang said.
An Asia-Pacific FTA was proposed in 2006. In 2010, APEC leaders announced the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as parallel routes toward a regionwide FTA.
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