Skip to content

China proposes ‘Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific’ by 2025

Map of APEC countries.

Map of APEC countries.

China has proposed a new ‘free trade’ agreement that is being backed by 20 other countries, including Canada.

The International Business Times reports, “The move was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his closing remarks at an Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit [in Beijing]… APEC members have agreed to launch a two-year study into the feasibility of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) which APEC says will ‘contribute significantly to regional economic integration, sustained growth and common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region’.”

The 21-country FTAAP is seen as competition to the US-backed 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is very likely now to miss its year end deadline to complete negotiations. The Guardian comments, “The FTAAP would build on other initiatives including the smaller US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership, but China’s firm advocacy of the plan over TPP has added to Sino-US trade rivalry. …Some Chinese analysts and state media have framed the TPP as an attempt to check Beijing’s growing economic clout – allegations Washington dismisses.”

As noted above, a strategic study on what the FTAAP could involve is to be presented to APEC leaders within two years (likely at the November 2016 APEC summit in Lima, Peru). A target date to complete the negotiations has been set for 2025. Given the last APEC summit in Canada was the infamous sprAyPEC in Vancouver in 1997, the next APEC summit in Canada will likely be in 2018, potentially at a key time in the FTAAP talks.

On September 12, the Harper government ratified the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). It came into effect on October 1. Council of Canadians trade campaigner Scott Harris has written that in ratifying FIPA the Harper government ignored “widespread public opposition, parliamentary opposition from the NDP, Greens and even lukewarm Liberal criticism, an ongoing First Nations legal challenge, and even division at its own cabinet table and grassroots membership…”

In 2010, China proposed negotiating a Canada-China Free Trade Agreement.