The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement

Promoting South-South Regional Integration and Sustainable Development

image of The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement

International trade has been placed prominently into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015, as an engine for economic growth and development. There are at least 20 targets across different SDGs that are related to international trade. These targets relate to both multilateral and regional frameworks of trade rules and trade as economic activity. These are also closely linked with capacity of trade to be a driver of transformative changes which are of critical importance for developing and least developed countries. The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) is one of the oldest preferential trade agreements (PTA) in the region (signed in 1975 as the Bangkok Agreement) and is open for membership to all the developing countries in the ESCAP region. This book analyses how APTA can promote South-South trade and investment as well as help in meeting SDGs. This book will be useful for the policy makers as well as researchers in understanding how RTAs can be used as a tool for development.



Executive summary

International trade and investment have enabled many countries in the Asia-Pacific region to boost economic growth and have lifted millions out of poverty. As the Asia-Pacific region continues to thrive economically, trade and investment barriers are being dissolved and eliminated. As countries begin to depend on each other more, trade policy is gradually becoming a useful measure to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. Trade and investment are linked to the environment (e,g., causing environmental degradation, which can hinder trade in environmentally-friendly goods and technologies) and social issues (e.g., gender, employment, reducing poverty); hence, their impacts are also multidimensional. It has now been recognized that sustainable production and consumption are essential for sustainable development. Countries realize that they are not able to approach global and regional problems on their own and require cooperation, both at the level of government and business. As a result, the region has been active in concluding regional cooperation frameworks which routinely are centered on trade and investment. In the meantime, business has forged regional integration through the formation of regional value chains and production networks while governments have paved the way for the expansion of such production networks through the formation of regional trade agreements and economic partnerships. Thus, with regard to economic integration the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), which is the oldest preferential trade agreement in the region with a large consumer base, can play an important role in filling this gap.


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