APTA welcomes Mongolia as its seventh member

Photo Credit: Kibae Park

Mongolia successfully concluded negotiations with all participating States for its accession to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) at the close of last week.

The Standing Committee of APTA at its forty-second session reached a consensus officially welcoming Mongolia as the seventh member of the Agreement. Current members include Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka.

The APTA is the oldest preferential trade agreement (PTA) among developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region and the only operational regional trade agreement linking China and India - the two locomotive sources of economic growth in the region, with a combined consumer base of some 2.6 billion people and dynamic trading nation - and a major market, such as the Republic of Korea.

“I hope that the APTA as a regional trading arrangement will benefit Mongolia,” said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Dr. Ravi Ratnayake, Director of ESCAP's Trade and Investment Division, noted: “This marks Mongolia’s inaugural accession to a preferential trade agreement,” and stressed that “Mongolia’s decision to be part of the APTA is particularly significant in that Mongolia is the only WTO member never to be party to any PTA to date.”

“Business opportunities arising from preferential trade and investment cooperation under APTA could generate higher incomes from exports and create employment in export-led industries for Mongolian people,” Dr. Ratnayake added.

Between 2001 and 2006, the APTA intra-regional trade share increased by almost 50 per cent. The Fourth Round of negotiation launched in October 2007, led to tariff concessions over 10,000 items, compared to 4,270 items under the Third Round. The current Round widens the coverage of preferences of total tariff lines for each Member State and deepens the tariff concessions by at least 20-25 per cent of the total intra-regional trade under the APTA.

Furthermore, aiming at comprehensively deepening trade cooperation and integration, the Fourth Round of negotiations extended into areas beyond the traditional tariff concessions, including non-tariff measures, trade facilitation, trade in services and investment for the first time in the history of the Agreement.

The APTA is a unique PTA whose membership is open to all developing Member States of ESCAP currently spanning East and South-East and South Asia, with potential to expand to other sub-regions of ESCAP, including Central Asia and the Pacific.