The Third Session of APTA ministerial council was held on December 15 in Seoul, Korea. Yi Xiaozhun, Vice Commerce Minister of China, headed Chinese delegation to the Session. The other five member countries, Bangladesh, India, Korea, Laos and Sri Lanka, also sent delegations at the ministerial level to the session, and representatives from Mongolia, Cambodia, and Laos attended the session as observers.

The conference made positive progress. The ministers from the six member countries signed framework agreement on trade facilitation and investment, and released the Minister Declaration. In the Declaration, they agreed that the fourth round negotiations of tariff concession should be completed shortly, the negotiations on specific commitments on service trade and investment to be concluded within the next two years, and trade facilitation and cooperation among member countries to be expanded. Framework agreement on Service Trade will be signed after the approval procedure completed in each member states.

Predecessor of Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) is Bangkok Agreement, a preferential trading arrangement among developing countries concluded in 1975 as an initiative of ESCAP. Through unremitting efforts of the member countries over the years, cooperation under the framework of APTA has been increasingly strengthened and economic and trade relations have become more and more close.

Since the implementation of the third round of tariff concession in September of 2006, goods covered by preferential treatment were significantly increased, which played a positive role in expanding trade among member countries. Enterprises of member countries used the preferential policies more frequently and benefited from them. The number of certificate of origin under the Agreement issued by China increased to 146,000 in 2008 from 2,406 in 2004, an increase of 60 folds within 5 years; the value amounted to 6,280 million USD in 2008 from 58.76 million USD in 2004, increased by 106 folds, and China’s imports by preferential treatment increased to 6.89 billion USD in 2008 from 1.28 billion USD in 2004, up by 438% in five years; the reduced tariff value amounted to 0.52 billion USD in 2008 from 81.5 million USD in 2004, up by 539% in five years.

Approved by:MINISTRY OF COMMERCE,PRC     Supported by:China International Electronic Commerce Center