Senior Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
APEC leaders’ tightening embrace of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific proposal first floated by the APEC Business Advisory Council in 2004 offers APEC a unique opportunity for renewal and strengthening through expansion.
In 2010, APEC leaders ordered APEC to become “an incubator of an FTAAP by providing leadership and intellectual input into the process of its development” with the guiding principle that FTAAP should build on existing regional trade liberalization processes involving APEC members. (http://www.apec.org/Meeting-Papers/Leaders-Declarations/2010/2010_aelm.aspx ). These are the so-called pathways to an FTAAP. In 2014, FTAAP became the centrepiece of an APEC leaders meeting for the first time with leaders committing to “launch a collective strategic study on issues related to the realization of the FTAAP” that is scheduled for leaders consideration at APEC 2016. (http://www.apec.org/Meeting-Papers/Leaders-Declarations/2014/2014_aelm.aspx ).