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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.

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Potential of trade in services

The proliferation of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) in Asia-Pacific economies that started in 1990s is continuing and, with the passage of time, their contents and composition have changed. The present RTAs go beyond conventional goods agreements and cover a wide range of issues that are WTO-plus and WTO-beyond. Services agreements are now part of these RTAs, whereby the countries make commitments going beyond what they have offered in the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). As of January 2016, there were 271 physical RTAs in force globally, of which 132 cover agreements related to services. The inclusion of services in RTAs not only invigorates trade in services and investment flows among the RTA partners, it also enhances opportunities to trade in goods and integrates the partners through regional and global supply chains. Due to the importance of services to the RTA partners’ economies, liberalization in services could become a powerful factor for trade-driven sustainable development.

English

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