APEC plays a very important role as an “idea incubator” for initiatives that stimulate trade and investment in the region and promote a variety of specific commitments, agreements and instruments to achieve this goal. In this regard, many initiatives are as follows: the latest ITA is an example of what can be achieved and what remains to be done. The APEC members` agreement on the total abolition of tariffs on information technology products was quickly handed over to the WTO and adopted in December 1996. However, it is quite predictable that trade conflicts in the field of information technology will not disappear, but move to a new level: the ability of governments to use investment, procurement, standards, subsidized appropriations, administrative guidelines and other national policy instruments to give preferences to their national industries after tariffs are abolished. APEC provides an appropriate and potentially fruitful forum in which debate on these barriers can begin. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT (ITA) At the 1996 summit, APEC leaders expressed explicit support for the signing of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which aims to eliminate tariffs on a wide range of information technology products. In 2011, the Leaders announced their intention to update the ITA, which was officially expanded to 201 new products in December 2015. Today, the Forum encourages initiatives to implement this agreement and invites members who are not yet contracting parties to join us. But APEC also has obvious drawbacks as a forum for serious trade negotiations. APEC is not a mini-WTO where serious negotiations lead to compromises and agreements at the negotiating table. In order to avoid the contentious negotiations, APEC has launched a rather adversarial process, with serious drawbacks. Environmental Goods In 2012, heads of state and government from all economies of the Forum agreed to reduce tariffs on 54 environmental products at or below 5% by 2015. These joint efforts have been the cornerstone of the development of the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) being negotiated in the WTO.
FREE TRADE AREA OF ASIA PACIFIC (FTAAP) In 2004, APEC Chile proposed the development of a free trade area for the entire Asia-Pacific region (FTAAP) that, by encouraging greater trade and investment among forum members, would bring great economic benefits. This idea was officially raised as a long-term vision by APEC leaders – heads of government of each forum member economy – as they also identified other regional trade agreements, including the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Association) as possible ways to achieve FTAAP.