BFA report calls for strengthened free trade ties among Asian economies

BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) — The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) called for connecting and integrating the free trade agreements (FTA) among major Asian economies to expand FTA coverage and develop a new blueprint for Asian economic integration, according to a report released on Thursday by the BFA.

Asian economies should enhance study on FTA rules with a focus on trade in essential public goods, unimpeded supply chains and digital trade, among others, said the report.

The report proposed to beef up the utilization rate of Asian FTAs to give a stronger sense of fulfillment to businesses and people in the region, promote reform through opening up and align domestic policies with the FTAs.

Asian economies also need to accelerate the building of high-standard and future-oriented Asian free trade areas in light of national conditions of countries and provide Asia’s solutions to the reform of the multilateral trading system, said the report.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian countries need to work together and actively promote regional cooperation arrangements such as FTAs, so as to inject new impetus into regional economic growth, said BFA Secretary General Li Baodong.

A number of bilateral and multilateral economic and trade agreements reached recently have become bright spots of the world amid the pandemic, said Zhou Xiaochuan, vice chairman of the BFA.

Efforts should be made to promote Asian economies to participate in FTAs at a higher level and with wider coverage to facilitate the reform of the World Trade Organization and the reshaping of multilateral trading rules, Zhou said.

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