APEC Ministers agree to promote free trade for economic revival

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum agreed on the importance of promoting free trade for reviving the economy that has been damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We underline the vital role trade has played in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic,” the APEC ministers said in a joint statement to wrap up their two-day online meeting through Tuesday.

“We will advance economic integration in the region in a manner that is market driven,” the statement noted, apparently referring to partnership frameworks such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which China has applied to join.

The meeting brought together ministers and other officials from 21 countries and regions, including Japan, the United States and China.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda, who took part in the meeting’s first-day discussions, said that it is important to maintain and strengthen economic partnerships without loosening the high-level liberalization rules set by the TPP.

The joint statement also touched on a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization that will start in late November, saying, “We will engage constructively and cooperate to ensure the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) is a success and delivers concrete results.”

The statement called on WTO member states to reach an agreement on the reduction of “harmful fisheries subsidies.”

Participants from Japan in the second-day discussions of the APEC meeting included Kenichi Hosoda, state minister of economy, trade and industry.

They stressed the importance of promoting the shift to renewable energy from fossil fuels in efforts to realize a decarbonized society.