WASHINGTON (Xinhua) – The upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Beijing is expected to produce tangible outcomes and achieve greater regional economic integration, says a US expert on Asia affairs.
With the theme of “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership,” China has laid out several areas to focus on during this year’s APEC gathering, including trade and investment integration, innovation, inclusive growth and connectivity.
“These efforts would help promote economic and interconnected development in the region,” Matthew Goodman, who holds the William E Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
In terms of infrastructure development, Goodman said China’s proposal of establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is “very understandable,” as there are large infrastructure needs in the region and China has great capacity to potentially help bridge the financing gap in the area.
Reviewing APEC’s development, Goodman said the forum has been a useful “incubator” to create good ideas on trade and integration, and it has also been a useful part of the architecture in the Asia-Pacific region.
APEC should continue to bring diverse economies together to deepen economic integration in the region, and it is useful for the forum to have “a long-term vision like the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP),” he said.
The FTAAP concept was proposed in 2004 and written into the declaration of the APEC economic leaders’ meeting in 2006. In February this year, China proposed to launch feasibility study on the subject.
According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the FTAAP process will be launched during the upcoming APEC economic leaders’ meeting.
China’s proposal is “welcome” as it is an opportunity to move towards that vision in a specific way, said Goodman, who served as White House coordinator for the APEC and the East Asia Summit forums during US President Barack Obama’s first term.
Meanwhile, setting a timetable for the FTAAP can be useful as a driving force for Asia-Pacific economic integration, he added.
Referring to Obama’s China visit, Goodman expected both Washington and Beijing would try to deepen bilateral ties by managing disagreements and expanding cooperation.
It is a “real opportunity” for the leaders of the two countries to sit down and have “frank” and “comprehensive” discussions about US-China relations, and about broader regional and global concerns the two sides share, said Goodman.
“I would expect the full range of political, security and economic issues to be on the agenda,” he added.
“I think both President Obama and President Xi Jinping very much want to find ways to manage differences and expand areas of cooperation to put US-China relations on a more positive path,” Goodman said.