New Delhi, Oct 26 (UNI) The second Ministerial Council of Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) today adopted an agreement on operational rules for certification and verification of the origin of goods for facilitating trade among APTA's six member-countries, including India, China and South Korea.
A "Ministerial Declaration" by Council meeting held in Goa decided to operationalise the agreement's procedures from January 1, 2008 with a commitment that the standing committee of APTA would subsequently review implementation of the procedures on a regular basis.
The participating ministers from six countries, also including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Lao (earlier known as Laos), agreed to launch the fourth round of negotiations to be completed by October 2009 when third meeting of APTA will be held in South Korea.
The first meeting was held in Beijing in November,2005.
The participants expressed the hope that fourth round of negotiations will deepen and widen trading relations among the six States. The Council directed the standing committee to widen the scope of negotiations to include non-tariff measures, services and investment.
Reaffirming expansion of APTA into a pan-Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, the Council directed the standing committee to facilitate entry of new members which are in the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The Declaration, while committing to a successful conclusion of the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations, said '' we recognise that the conclusion of bilateral and regional trade agreements as building blocs of the multilateral trading system remains an important mechanism to advance our trade interests.'' Defending regional trading arrangements, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, in his address to the Council, said these can become building blocks towards multilateral economic liberalisation. He advocated launch of fourth round of negotiations to realise vast potential of trade among members of ESCAP.
He said in spite of limited membership, APTA not only provides a huge collective market of about 2.5 billion people but it could also act as a huge source of production or supplies to the world market.
It is, therefore, important to expand APTA to realise this objective and to strengthen economic and industrial linkages among countries of ESCAP, he added.
Mr Kamal Nath said some Central Asian countries have also shown interest in becoming APTA members and ESCAP secretariat has been providing them with the required support.
India's total trade with APTA member-countries have gone up from 5.3 billion dollars in 2000-01 to 28.4 bullion dollars in 2005-06 recording an annual average increase of more than 100 per cent.
During the same period India's trade with APTA members as a percentage to India's global trade nearly doubled from 5.66 per cent to 11.36 per cent.