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Kenneth Fukuda

"Time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future."
U.S. President John F. Kennedy



Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Pacific Rim Countries
Free Trade Zone

Leaders of Pacific Rim countries met on November 22, 2011 for their annual economic summit in Hawaii and agreed to work toward the creation of the Asia-Pacific free trade zone.  President Obama expressed confidence with the heads of the eight other nations involved in negotiations towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The eight nations in the zone include the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
President Obama is the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering, a nonbinding forum that includes 21 nations from across the vast Asia-Pacific region.  The 21 nations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States, Taipei (Taiwan), Hong Kong (China), People's Republic of China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russia and Vietnam.
The European Union urgently needs to solve its sovereign debt crisis.  Otherwise, a prolonged recession may occur.  Asian business relies on Europe as a major market for autos, clothing and other exports.
President Obama stated that the free trade zone will serve as a model for the region and for other trade agreements to increase American exports and create jobs as a top priority in the strongest growing region in the world.  The leaders at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum intend to avoid recession at a when Europe is struggling to resolve its debt crisis.
Japan, with the world's third-largest economy, stated its interest in joining the negotiations.  Japan's decision to join the proposed free trade arrangement that will be a basic building block for a broad free trade zone covering all of Asia and the Pacific Rim.  However, China appears to be indifferent about the Pacific trade agreement.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is intended to complement broader efforts to promote freer trade.  consumer electronics and other exports.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership may become the basis for a long-term APEC free trade zone of the Asia-Pacific.  It is anticipated that other countries will join the Partnership.
At the summit, the heads of APEC forum members endorsed actions to strengthen regional economic integration and trade.  The strategies include improved food security, increased trade and investment in environmental products and services, better access to financing for small and medium companies, simplified customs clearance and coordinated regulatory standards.  
The goal is to allow APEC businesses to operate at lower costs, more quickly and on a more simplified basis.  By eliminating  barriers and bottlenecks that obstruct business, APEC members hope to improve growth at a time when the world economy needs a dynamic Asia-Pacific region to counterbalance the maladies in crisis-stricken Europe.  Recently, Vietnam and Chile entered a free trade agreement that will improve trade between the two countries involving Chilean copper and steel and Vietnamese garments, rice and coffee.  Concurrently, APEC is working toward a broad agreement in which countries will establish individual free-trade arrangements.
Negotiations are time-consuming because APEC's decisions must be by consensus.  In the medium term, APEC will establish support for close economic ties and free trade.   The U.S. has recently agreed upon free trade accords with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.  When these agreements are ratified, the U.S. will have 20 free trade agreements with other countries.


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