A Boao Forum for Asia press conference takes place in Boao, Hainan Province, on March 26 (XINHUA)
The world trading system is wracked with uncertainty and risks of inefficiency linked to new forms of exclusive trading blocks, warned a report released by the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) on March 26, at the start of its Annual Conference 2019.
However, while global trade protectionism is on the rise, Asian economies have been actively promoting integration, according to the report, titled Progress of Asian Economic Integration.
Trade frictions among major players in the trading system have accelerated regional trade liberalization in Asia, it said.
The report showed that 17 new agreements were signed from 2017 to 2018, while 70 bilateral agreements are currently being negotiated. In addition, in March 2018, the 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) countries left after the U.S. pulled out of the deal, decided to continue to honor the basic content of the TPP by signing the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.
There are also indications of acceleration in the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which began in May 2013. Negotiations on the China-Japan-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement have also moved faster with an emphasis placed on promoting a level of trade and investment liberalization.
The report put forward suggestions for furthering regional integration. It suggested Asian countries improve existing free trade agreements and promote the development of global value chains, intensify regional efforts to push forward talks on the RCEP, move the Belt and Road Initiative to a new phase and jointly promote the reform of the World Trade Organization.
The report was released along with three other BFA flagship reports. The BFA is a nongovernment and nonprofit organization that has hosted its annual conference in Boao, a coastal town in China's southern Hainan Province, since 2002.
The three other reports are on the development of emerging markets, the ranking of competitiveness of Asian economies, and the status and prospects of infrastructure financing in Asia.
This year's BFA Annual Conference has drawn more than 2,000 delegates from 60 countries and regions, including over 40 state and government leaders and more than 100 ministerial level officials.
(Reporting from Boao, Hainan Province)
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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