Courtesy Reuters

Contrary to most expectations about regional economic organizations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is poised to become a driving force for worldwide trade liberalization. There is already strong evidence for this conclusion: the additional liberalization offers that APEC developed at its Seattle summit in November 1993 made an important contribution to the subsequent success of the Uruguay Round, as did the message to countries outside the Asia-Pacific region that APEC represented a feasible alternative to global progress if the GATT talks were to fail. This development may be the most important of several promising initiatives launched at Seattle.

As envisioned by its Eminent Persons Group (EPG), whose proposed vision for APEC was broadly endorsed at Seattle, APEC would become neither a customs union like the European Union nor a free trade area like that covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). APEC would support every effort in the

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  • C. Fred Bergsten is Director of the Institute for International Economics, Chairman of the Competitiveness Policy Council and Chairman of the APEC Eminent Persons Group.
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