Asia-Pacific trade policy roundtable launched in HK; excludes HK

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Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) has launched a new project to review trade conditions in Asia with an aim to improving regional trade deals with better intel. It was hosted here, but excluded HK data – for now.


Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) is launching a policy commission to review Asia-Pacific economic and trade landscape. Wendy Cutler, Vice President & Managing Director of ASPI, conceived the original idea and praises the Asian financial hub for its economic openness and its suitability for fostering multilateral trade dialogue.

Ms Cutler chairs the six-member (US, Japan, South Korea, The Philippines, Indonesia and Australia) policy commission launched on Sunday at the Hong Kong Office of the Asia Society. She brings experiential heft to the role as a retired senior official from Office of the US Trade Representative and a key US negotiator bilaterally with Japan for the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Ms Cutler set out to explain the objectives of the trade roundtable; to wit, “The policy commission aims at streamlining various treaties, pacts, initiatives and agreements related to Asia-Pacific trade, so as to make sure all kinds of regional agreements can co-exist and be consistent with each other.”

Oddly, Hong Kong will host the commission, but not be included in its purview. “HK is not included in the launch since we hope to keep it small in the starting stage, but we won’t exclude HK the multilateral trade centre in the region in our discussions.”

“I’m really impressed by Hong Kong’s open economy,” says Wendy Cutler.

Given that, why Hong Kong? “I was a frequent business traveller in HK in 1990s, and until now, I am still impressed by the openness of economy, especially its zero tariff policy, “ she said. “Besides this, HK is well equipped with the hardware that favours international conferences being held and organised.”

Including the private launch in HK, Cutler said the policy commission has scheduled five meetings for discussion. An overview report will be published and made available to the public in the second half of October before the 2016 APEC summit in Lima, Peru in mid-November.