The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) is a preferential regional trade agreement, formerly known as the Bangkok Agreement. The AptA aims to promote the economic development of its members by adopting mutually beneficial trade liberalization measures that contribute to regional trade expansion and economic cooperation. Over time, it has focused, from the first negotiations on tariff concessions in trade in goods, to the current negotiations on investment liberalization, trade in services and trade facilitation. It is also constantly working to improve and modernize its rules of origin for the trade in goods. Amid questions about Washington`s engagement in Asia, RCEP could consolidate China`s position as an economic partner with Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea and allow the world`s second-largest economy to better shape the region`s trade rules. The fourth round of negotiations will focus on areas that go beyond traditional tariff concessions in order to deepen trade policy cooperation and integration. APTA members are currently negotiating three framework agreements on trade facilitation, trade in services and investment. In addition, APTA members exchange information on non-tariff measures. The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), formerly known as the Bangkok Agreement and renamed on November 2, 2005, was signed in 1975.
It is the oldest preferential trade agreement between countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Seven participating states – Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka – are parties to APTA. The APTA pact occupies the market for 2921.2 million people  and the size of this large market represents $14615.86 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) in the 2015-16 fiscal year.  APTA`s main objective is to accelerate economic development among the seven participating states that opt for trade and investment liberalization measures that, through the coverage of goods and services, synchronized investment and the free transfer of technology, will contribute to the coverage of intra-regional trade and economic strengthening. Its aim is to promote economic development and cooperation through trade liberalization measures. The AptA is open to all members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, which serves as the secretariat of APTA. APTA members are currently participating in the fourth round of tariff concessions, which is expected to end in October 2009.  The United States lacks both the RCEP and the successor to the Obama-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), meaning that the world`s largest economy consists of two trade groups that make up the fastest growing region of the world. The pact will enter into force as soon as enough participating countries ratify the internal agreement in the next two years, Indonesia`s trade minister said last week. Ken Kobayashi, president of the Japanese Foreign Trade Council, told reporters that the trade agreement was very important to Japan.
According to local media, the mega-trade agreement between 15 Asia-Pacific countries, which covers about 46% of Japan`s total trade, will be the country`s first trade agreement, both with China, its largest trading partner, and with South Korea, the third.
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