QINGDAO, May 18 (Xinhua) -- A ministerial meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has reiterated the resolution to draft a roadmap concerning the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
The annual APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, which wrapped up Sunday in China's eastern city of Qingdao, released a statement saying the move formed part of "concrete steps towards eventual realization of an FTAAP."
Gao Hucheng, China's minister of commerce, said it will lay the foundation for the FTAAP and a "Committee on Trade and Investment Friends of the Chair Group" will be set up to advance the process.
The roadmap is expected to be finalized within this year, the statement said, eight years after the idea of a free trade area of APEC economies was first proposed.
Established in 1989, APEC has played a significant role in driving global and regional economic growth. Its 21 members contributed approximately 57 percent of the world's GDP and 46 percent of world trade last year.