Thailand's commerce ministry will host a meeting with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) trade ministers to discuss the long-delayed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

The Apec Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting, to be held at Centara Grand in Bangkok from May 19-22, will be led by Thai commerce minister Jurin Laksanawisit. Several representatives, including ministers from the US, Russia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Brunei and Vietnam, will be at the meeting in person, though the Chinese minister will attend online.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations, said the meeting on May 21-22 will focus on cooperation to support the growth of economies in Apec.

The trade ministers will also discuss support for the multilateral trading system and will exchange ideas with the Apec Business Advisory Council on how to drive FTAAP in the fallout of Covid-19 and the policies for economic growth.

A seminar on building awareness and cooperation between the public, private, academic and citizen sectors on FTAAP and free trade in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis will be held on May 19.

FTAAP first came up in a joint statement of Apec trade ministers in 2008 and was again part of the agenda in November 2021, as part of Apec’s Putrajaya Vision 2040 implementation plan.

Meanwhile, May 20 will see the Apec BCG Symposium 2022 with a focus on boosting micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises’ (MSME) competitiveness through necessary knowledge for a sustainable future, providing policy guidance on incentivising and stimulating the private sector to apply the BCG (“bio-circular-green”) model for more sustainable businesses, and building networks for stakeholders across the region.

“Apec is a stage that focuses on free trade and reducing trading obstacles. This year, Thailand has the chance to become a host for the first time in 20 years,” Auramon said.

“The result of the meeting will set a guideline on how to recover and stimulate Thailand’s economic growth sustainably after the Covid-19 era and respond to the change in trading with efficiency.

“It will also be an opportunity for Thailand to display readiness for country opening, to welcome tourists and business operators from across the world,” she said.

Apec was formed in 1989 as an informal forum for member nations to discuss free-trade and economic cooperation along the Pacific Rim.

Apec members include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam, as well as mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.