ABAC firm on free-trade area
Establishing a free-trade area in the Asia Pacific is one of the main recommendations that the Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC) will make to regional leaders this year.
In Auckland this afternoon, ABAC members from Apec's 21 member countries wrapped up the first of four meetings as they prepare for the Beijing summit in November.
ABAC's chair for 2014, Ning Gaoning, said deepening the economic integration of the area would underpin the group's recommendations.
The concept of a free-trade area was first recommended by ABAC in 2004, and adopted as a long-term vision by Apec in 2006.
While Apec is a voluntary, non-binding forum, external pathways to develop free trade include the likes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently under negotiation.
ABAC's New Zealand member, Tony Nowell, said the goal was to make sure those various pathways stayed true to the free-trade endgame.
Ning said actions needed to be taken to remove any barriers to such integration.
Developing connectivity and infrastructure were an overreaching theme in a world dominated by global supply chains, he said.
The infrastructure development would focus on measures to increase private sector participation, such as public-private partnerships.
It would also work on helping governments more effectively plan and execute infrastructure projects.
Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser have both addressed ABAC members during their visit.