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APEC Steps Up Planning for China’s Proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific

Nov. 21, 2016 (EIRNS)—Notable in the "2016 Leaders’ Declaration," issued at the end of the Lima APEC summit, is its reiteration of the leaders’

"commitment to the eventual realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) as a major instrument to further deepen APEC’s regional economic integration agenda,"

and that "instructs officials to implement the Lima Declaration on FTAAP." Work programs towards the realization of the FTAAP are to be developed, and regular progress reports on implementing those programs are expected, the final declaration states, and "we instruct officials to consider next steps that can be taken towards the eventual realization of an FTAAP."

Chinese President Xi Jinping had urged fellow leaders at the APEC Summit to accelerate steps towards the FTAAP, in his speech on Saturday, given the weakness in the world economy.

The idea of a FTAAP, unifying the myriad of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between Asian-Pacific countries (Xinhua counts 160 different agreements as of the end of 2015), goes back to 2006. But China has taken the lead in pushing it forward, in the last two years in particular. Unlike Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), designed explicitly to exclude China, the FTAAP would include all nations in the Asia-Pacific region which wish to join. And China’s concept of FTAAP is to facilitate trade so as to foment the physical economic development of the participating nations, not the bankers-corporate dictatorship of Obama’s TPP.

Obama’s now-dead TPP was not even mentioned in the main final declaration, but was relegated to brief mention in the annexed Lima Declaration on FTAAP, urging that the TPP be "inclusive" and "transparent."

Obama’s grandstanding in Lima during the summit reportedly enraged his Peruvian hosts and members of the U.S. business delegation attending alike. Obama didn’t bother to address the summit at all, but took off to address a "youth" meeting at the Catholic University, covered extensively on Peruvian TV, and he called his own press conference right after the final press conference of the other leaders closing the summit, where he held forth for any who would listen on how he wants the Democratic Party, Trump, and everyone else to behave.

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