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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

29 September 2020

Excellency Mr. Tumur Amarsanaa, Ambassador of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Thailand,
Representatives from APTA member Countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,

A very warm welcome to this ceremony for Mongolia’s accession to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA). I would like to congratulate on Mongolia’s accession to APTA.

By depositing the instrument of accession today, Mongolia becomes the seventh member of the APTA.  I would like congratulate Mongolia and other Participating States on completing all necessary processes to finalize accession of Mongolia to APTA after being engaged in negotiation and ratification processes.

This is the first expansion of APTA after the accession of China back in 2001. It is an important milestone in the progress of APTA towards becoming a contemporary regional agreement.

The accession of Mongolia to APTA will benefit business sector of APTA Participating States through facilitating trade and access to Mongolian market, and certainly vice versa.

The APTA is a preferential regional trade agreement established in 1975 and open for accession by any member countries of ESCAP. The current Participating States are Bangladesh, China, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Republic of Korea Sri Lanka and now Mongolia. APTA aims to promote the economic development of its members through the adoption of mutually beneficial trade liberalization measures that contribute to regional trade expansion and economic cooperation. Currently, traders in APTA countries can enjoy preferential tariffs on over 10,000 tariff lines.

Currently, APTA is under its 5th round negotiation to widen tariff preferences in trade in goods and expand areas of liberalisation in investment, trade and services and trade facilitation. APTA is still the only trade agreement connecting the big economies of our region and several APTA participating states. So, it could provide a great market access to developing countries as well as contributing to economic development and regional cooperation through its membership expansion.

With regard to trade facilitation, I would like to also inform all of you that two APTA participating countries - Bangladesh and China - already completed their domestic ratification processes for becoming parties to the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific. As well as 3 other countries have already acceded or ratified the Framework Agreement, so we expect that the paperless trade agreement may enter into force early next year.

As the Framework Agreement on paperless trade is consistent with APTA’s own framework agreement on trade facilitation - and also since all APTA members have actively participated in the development of the paperless trade facilitation treaty, early accession by other APTA Participating States could help the group accelerate and set implementation priorities for trade digitalization both among themselves and the rest of the region. Therefore, it can facilitate and help to make trade more resilient and ensuring recovery from this pandemic.

Therefore, I would like to encourage Mongolia and other Participating States of APTA to accelerate their accession to the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Republic of Korea for driving this initiative and providing support necessary for the development of the paperless trade facilitation treaty since the beginning.

As secretariat, ESCAP will continue its support for the smooth implementation of APTA in Mongolia. In this conjunction we already planned a workshop in mid-October to help Mongolian stakeholders better understand and how to benefit and take advantage of the trade preferences under the agreement. The capacity building workshop is kindly supported by the Government of Republic of Korea as well as other support from APTA participating states.  

I would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to all participating states of APTA for their presence today, for all their support to congratulate Mongolia.

Thank you very much

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