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US Pressures China to Kill Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement Talks

Nov 04 , 2014

Last week, in the official preview of the APEC summit given by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi noted that China wants forward progress on the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area (FTAAP). However, a recent report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that the U.S. is trying to shut down those discussions.

As the WSJ notes, the idea of FTAAP has been around for years. The U.S. initially supported the idea, but recently the Obama administration has shifted its focus to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a “high standard” trade agreement that would include 12 countries on both sides of the Pacific – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam – while excluding China. The Obama administration places a heavy emphasis on the TPP as the economic pillar of its “rebalance to Asia,” and apparently is not keen to see momentum diluted by the introduction of a new trade arrangement.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. pressured Beijing to drop two provisions dealing with FTAAP from the draft APEC communique. One provision called for APEC to begin a feasibility study for FTAAP, which would be the first formal step in negotiating the new FTA. The other provision set a target date of 2025 to close the deal. According to the Wall Street Journal, both provisions were removed from the draft after the U.S. protested.

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