Delegates to the 23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Manila, November 18-19, 2015, held intensive discussions relative to economic, trade and investment matters, as well as territorial disputes in the South China Sea and climate change, while also hoping to encourage cooperation toward combating terrorism that may follow the attacks in Paris, France.
KResearch has assessed that the latest APEC summit will be a platform for promoting what could become the world's largest free trade agreement (FTA) area – the ‘Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific' (FTAAP). World leaders discussed means for the FTAAP to be extended to all APEC members, while greater development is expected at the next meeting in Lima, Peru, next year. However, members will have to increase their efforts toward finally bringing this agreement to fruition. Members' differing stances on various issues may impede realization of the framework later on.
For Thailand, the official advent of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) next month is an important challenge for the business sector toward seeking new opportunities within the AEC market and ASEAN+6 (China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand), with which FTAs have already been achieved. Meanwhile, other frameworks are still under consideration such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that is being mulled by Thailand. Even if Thailand wants to join the TPP, approvals of TPP member states and our authorities will be required. In another matter, the prospective Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) may need another two years to materialize. The main focus is now on finalizing the framework among the six member states and other ASEAN nations.That outcome will not impact Thailand much because Thailand has FTAs with many of the nations so involved. However, the framework will help all 16 members to connect their supply chains.
Over the long term, the FTAAP framework will benefit Thailand's business sector toward expansion into countries where we have no FTA, e.g., the US, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and Russia.
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