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APEC Leaders Vow to Boost Regional Economic Integration

Leaders of member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on Sunday pledged more efforts to boost regional economic integration.

In a declaration issued after the two-day 16th APEC economic leaders' meeting in the Peruvian capital, they said the goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region would be achieved through a series of unilateral reform measures combined with bilateral, regional and multilateral liberalization.

The leaders welcomed progress made by member economies towards the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the region. "We reinforced our commitment to achieving the Bogor Goals to promote growth, development and a rapid recovery from the current global slowdown," they said.

On the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), the leaders commended the progress made in examining the prospects and options of a possible FTAAP as a long-term prospect. "We noted advice from ministers that while an FTAAP would likely be of economic benefit to the region as a whole, there would also be challenges in its creation," they said.

The leaders instructed ministers and officials to conduct further analytical work on the likely economic impact of an FTAAP and discuss the possible capacity building requirements for any possible further negotiations. They also instructed officials to undertake initiatives designed to promote greater convergence among economies in key areas of APEC's trade and investment agenda, including areas such as customs administration, trade facilitation and cross-border services.

They welcomed five new model measures, resulting in a set of 15 completed chapters for regional trade agreements (RTAs) and free trade agreements (FTAs) that will promote high-quality RTAs/FTAs and greater consistency and coherence among these agreements in the region.

The leaders endorsed the continued process of implementation of APEC's second Trade Facilitation Action Plan to achieve their stated goal of reducing trade transaction costs by an additional 5 percent between 2007 to 2010. In the document, the leaders voiced support for the APEC Investment Facilitation Action Plan to improve the investment environment in the region and commended the initiation of the study of bilateral investment agreements and core-investment-related activities of existing FTAs.

They also emphasized the importance of strengthening financial markets in the region and welcomed the capacity building activities initiated by APEC finance ministers to reform capital markets. Recognizing the pressing need for infrastructure development in APEC economies, they called on finance ministers to examine more fully the means to optimize linkages between private infrastructure finance and growth and development.

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the region, reiterating the importance of comprehensive and balanced IPR systems that provide for and protect the incentive that encourage creation and innovation.

They also welcomed the progress by economies to implement the APEC anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Initiative as well as efforts to improve patent systems in the region.

Nineteen leaders from the APEC member economies attended the two-day summit, part of the APEC Leaders' Week in Lima on November 16-23.

(Xinhua News Agency November 24, 2008)

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