• Kyodo

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The United States has proposed that the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum adopt the so-called Shanghai Charter at its October summit, to enhance the region’s commitment to freeing up trade and investment, APEC sources said Sunday.

Trade ministers from the 21 Pacific Rim economies will likely discuss the charter in their meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Shanghai, for which senior officials spent a two-day preparatory gathering that ended Sunday in Shenzhen, the sources said.

The U.S. suggestion comprises four points, including a call to consider adding new themes to the 1995 Osaka Action Agenda, which provides a road map for free and open trade and investment, business facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation, they said.

The U.S. also suggests improving APEC’s monitoring of the implementation of individual action plans being presented by member countries in line with the action agenda. It also pushes cooperation on the information technology-driven new economy, and efforts to make member countries’ legal systems more transparent.

Details of the proposals will be discussed through the series of APEC meetings this year, hosted by China, including the upcoming gathering of trade ministers and the ministerial and summit meetings slated for October.

Whether they will be adopted as a charter is still uncertain, however, because some countries are dubious whether the proposals can be fleshed out effectively, the sources said.

Regarding the monitoring system, Japan has proposed authorizing the APEC secretariat to check the action plans’ progress in a way similar to the country-by-country monitoring of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the sources said. Currently, each APEC member is required to brief the Singapore-based secretariat on progress in implementing its plan.

Formed in 1989, APEC includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

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