PJD 2014-2015 Vol. 41-42 Nos. 1-2a
Is the Pacific Alliance a Potential Pathway to the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific?
The establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) is one of the priorities of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to enhance regional economic integration beyond the Bogor Goals, as reflected in the Beijing Roadmap for APEC in 2014. There are multiple pathways that could converge into the FTAAP, and these include the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This paper discusses the potential of the Pacific Alliance (PA) to provide an additional pathway that also contributes to the FTAAP process and regional integration in Asia-Pacific.
The analysis suggests that the PA can be considered a comprehensive mechanism that is in line with the Bogor Goals, and its achievements in areas such as market access, services, investment, and new generation issues suggest that it is a WTO+ agreement. However, there are issues that would need to be negotiated among its members--such as intellectual property, labor, and environmental protection--for the PA to profile itself as a pathway equivalent to the TPP. The PA, however, is more comprehensive than the RCEP. The analysis also suggests that despite having only four members, the PA is a "living agreement" and is open to other APEC economies for membership and, therefore, has the potential to become a region-wide agreement.
This paper encourages PA members to formulate a common Asia-Pacific strategy as a necessary step to further integrate the region and be able to contribute to the realization of the FTAAP. Formulating the strategy is one of the most important challenges for the economies of PA members and, at the same time, one of their greatest opportunities to become a driving force for regional integration in the Asia-Pacific region.