The Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) was signed in 1975 between India, Bangladesh, the Republic of Korea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Sri Lanka. It is the oldest trade agreement between the countries of the Asia-Pacific region and one of the longest operational trade agreements in Asia and the Pacific. It is also the first preferential trade agreement between developing countries. It was earlier known as the Bangkok Agreement and was renamed APTA in 2005.
With the trade cooperation among the members of APTA, the agreement could soon become a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement of Asia and Pacific (CEPAAP).
The agreement has seven signatories with a combined GDP of US$14615.86 billion and a population of more than 2921.2 million people. It is open to all member states and customs territories of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
Aspirants can read similar topics for the IAS Exam preparation from the links mentioned below:
About APTA for UPSC
|Important Facts about APTA|
|Is the APTA and Bangkok Agreement the Same?||Yes, Asian Pacific Trade Agreement was formerly known as Bangkok Agreement (1975-2005)|
|Participating States/Members of Asia Pacific Trade Agreement||Seven:
|Which is the latest country to join APTA?||Mongolia acceded to APTA in September 2020|
|APTA Secretariat||The Trade, Investment and Innovation Division (TIID) of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP)|
|Ministerial Meetings of APTA||
|Milestones of APTA||
|Can other countries from different sub-regions join APTA?||Note: All ESCAP developing member states can join APTA.|
The following table lists the current participants in APTA and the year they acceded to membership of this trade agreement:
Asia Pacific Trade Agreement countries
Year of Accession (Country-wise)
|Republic of Korea||1975|
|The People’s Republic of China||2001|
The main objective of APTA is to speed up economic development in the seven participating states. It aims to liberalize trade and investment which would promote inter-regional trade and strengthen the economies of the participating countries. It also aims to reduce tariff and regulatory barriers for commodities, technology and investments.
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UNESCAP and Organization of APTA
The UNESCAP serves as the secretariat for the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement and assists with identifying prospective members who could participate in this trade agreement without negatively affecting their economy. The UNESCAP also facilitates the negotiation of terms between the participating countries. The fourth round of negotiations between the APTA members is going on, covering areas beyond traditional tariff concessions.
The negotiations cover the facilitation of trade in services, removal of non-tariff barriers to trade and investment. The following is the organizational structure of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement:
- Ministerial Council: The highest decision-making body of the APTA meets once every two years. It provides overall direction to trade policy and supervises the implementation of the agreement.
- Standing Committee: It administers the trade agreement through national and alternate focal points appointed by each member.
- Secretariat: The Trade and Investment Division of the UNESCAP acts as the secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement.
The APTA is considered one of the most important trade agreements in the world as it is the only trade agreement that directly links India and China. The other trade agreements which involve India and China have them as observers or signatories who do not extend tariff preferences to each other.
Aspirants must also read about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), its member countries and objectives at the linked article. It was established in 1989 as a regional economic forum to promote sustainable growth and better economic relations among the member countries or economies.
Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement: Indian Customs
APTA is considered a part of India FTAs, though it is not a full-fledged free trade agreement. It is a preferential trade agreement covering specific tariff lines. However, almost all APTA commodities are given tariff preference by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs. The list of commodities covered under concessions on tariff extended by Indian Customs keeps getting updated as negotiations progress. Certain commodities may get added through negotiation or removed under prevailing anti-dumping and countervailing provisions.
Why the topic, ‘APTA’ is important for UPSC?
Policies regarding preferential trade agreements like the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement are formulated and implemented by Indian Trade Service officers, who are selected through the Civil Services Exam. They supervise trade and export administration activities with the help of other All India and Central Services like IAS, IRS and IFS. UPSC aspirants should read about India FTAs as a part of the Political Science and International Relations Syllabus for Mains. These agreements also form a part of the syllabus of IAS Current Affairs related to the economy and international relations for General Studies in Prelims and Mains.
Frequently Asked Questions on Asia Pacific Trade Agreement
Q 1. What is the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement?
Q 2. What is the Bangkok Agreement?
To read more on IAS preparation, please visit:
|Current Affairs Quiz||UPSC Syllabus|
|What is Asia Pacific Group (APG)?||Strategic Importance of Indo Pacific: RSTV – Big Picture|
|Best of PIB||UPSC Economy MCQ|
|IAS Salary||IAS Hindi|