Pacific Rim trade ministers made scant progress putting in place separate trade deals covering high-tech goods and regional trade during a two-day meeting here, though talks will continue through a leaders’ summit that begins Monday.
Ministers from 21 economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum negotiated through Friday night and into Saturday morning on two deals. One would create a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, a priority of China, the meeting’s host. The other would expand the Information Technology Agreement, which eliminates tariffs on high-tech goods. In the latter negotiations, China has been reluctant to move ahead despite pressure from the U.S. and other APEC members, according to negotiators.
On FTAAP, China managed to get agreement on a two-year study of a potential deal, with a “goal of establishing the FTAAP as early as possible,” according to a statement by the ministers. Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng hailed the deal, saying it would shift APEC’s role “from an incubator [of trade ideas] to concrete action.” Read more here.