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The APTA Agreement – Economic Development in the Pacific

While the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement has existed in this incarnation for less than a decade, the trade agreement has roots in the earlier Bangkok Agreement, finalized in 1975 as a means of increasing intra-regional trade among nations in the region. The APTA treaty emerged from initiatives set by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, or ESCAP, and presently seeks to unite all regions of Asia in economic cooperation.


Presently eight nations comprise the treaty, with plans to engage other Asian countries into dialogue, that they may also accede into the agreement. Current members of APTA include:

  • Bangladesh - Of the nation's major exports, fabric and apparel and jute are among the most popular. Jute, a vegetable fiber used in the making of fabric, rope, and similar items, is one of the country's largest crops and as such Bangladesh is one of the world's top producers of jute.

  • China - China boasts of the largest economies in the world and is also a top exporter of goods. Nearly one-fifth of exported electronics, machinery, and clothing are sent to the United States alone.

  • India - Many these days associate India with the growing industry of outsourced labor. In addition to handling call centers and customer service for various countries, India exports textiles, leather, and medical equipment.

  • Korea - In recent decades, Korea has become known for their automobile exports - namely from Kia and Hyundai. Other popular exports include computer components and electronic equipment.

  • Lao People's Democratic Republic - Also known as Laos, this country has one of the smaller overall GDPs of the treaty nations. Laos relies upon natural resources like coffee and precious metals - gold and copper in particular - to satisfy export income.

  • Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka has enjoyed growth in the agricultural sector in recent years, with tea, rubber, and coconuts among their better known exports.

  • Nepal - On average, Nepal brings in under one billion dollars income annually from exports, making it one of the lesser economies among APTA nations. Carpets and apparel, jute byproducts and herbs comprise their more sought-after exports.

  • The Philippines - Outside of China, the Phillippines are a major trade partner with the United States in this region. Electronics and copper, and tropical fruits and byproducts are some of the top products exported.

According to UNESCAP, APTA has the distinction of being the only active trade agreement to connect China and India, two of the largest populated countries in Asia, if not the Eastern Hemisphere. Presently APTA seeks to court neighboring countries Mongolia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Papua New Guinea into the treaty. As trade continues to grow in the Pacific rim, the goal of APTA will hopefully allow for tariff concessions between member nations and assist those with lower GDPs, and in turn improve political relations between countries.

Published Feb 15 2012, 09:09 PM by admin
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