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Asian Biz Summit: Members working for Asia-Pacific free trade

Business leaders from Asian countries met here Wednesday and resolved to promote new, and buttress existing, Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) within the region towards creating a Free Trade Area for the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).

Industry leaders from countries including India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea and the Phillipines met over two days for the fourth edition of the Asian Business Summit (ABS), hosted here by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"We discussed how to increase economic integration. The EPAs and FTAs would bind the Asian economies together for expanded trade in goods and services and greater investment flows," Wang Jinzhen, vice chairman, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), told reporters at the end of the summit.

Wang added that in a context where the WTO Doha Round of negotiations had not made much progress on FTAs, he saw no contradictions between regional agreements of the kind Asia was looking for and multilateral arrangements.

The ABS deliberates on key issues facing Asian economies, identify new cross-border partnership opportunities and prepare a roadmap for the region's economic progress.

The summit also called for deeper regional fiscal and monetary cooperation. "We discussed ways to go towards Asia-Pacific economic integration by 2020," said Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Keidanren and Sumitomo Chemicals, Japan.

For the Asian region with a combined GDP of USD 20 trillion and population of 3.4 billion, the continent's energy demand as well as environmental consequences figured as a key issue.

"We discussed where the energy is going to come from and how we can save on energy," said Vikram Kirloskar, vice chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor.

The next ABS meeting is to take place in the Phillipines.