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Proposing a 21-nation free trade zone

U.S. Treasury Timothy Geithner (back C) chairs the finance ministers meeting with guests from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Nov. 10, 2011.

Jeremy Hobson: President Obama flies to Hawaii today to host a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic cooperation -- or APEC. It represents 21 economies, all along the Pacific Rim. But Europe has already come up at the meeting. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the trouble there will directly affect all of the APEC nations.

Another big focus of the meeting will be the idea of creating a 21 member free trade zone. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports.


Jeff Tyler: To get 21 different economies to agree on free trade policy, you have to start somewhere. For the U.S., that's meant pushing for a smaller free trade pact first. It includes Peru, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

Vinnie Aggarwal: You can see the missing ones.

That's Vinnie Aggarwal, director of the APEC Study Center at U.C. Berkeley.

Aggarwal: Korea is not part of it. Japan is not part of it. China's not part of it.

Mickey Kantor was commerce secretary in the Clinton administration. He says any viable trade zone has to include Japan.

Mickey Kantor: Without Japan in this agreement, it's going to be difficult to expand to 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 countries. Very difficult.

The free trade zone is politically unpopular in Japan. And whatever leaders agree to this weekend in Hawaii still needs to be approved by lawmakers back home.

Very difficult.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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