Australiaâ€“Japan Research Centre
Since emerging as a leading industrial economy, Japan has played an important role in promoting Asia Pacific economic cooperation. Japan has been instrumental in every major initiative in economic cooperation in the region over the past three decades, including the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum launched in 1989. Japans commitment to free trade, reinforced by its own experience of discriminatory trade policies in the immediate postwar period, has made it a strong advocate of the principle of open regionalism on which APEC is founded. Commitment to this principle has provided the basis for a process of unilateral liberalisation of trade, including agreed time frames, which allows the developing economies of the Asia Pacific region to progress towards free trade in a flexible manner and provides some protection against free riders. The strength of this commitment will assist member economies to counter pressure for preferential trading arrangements and facilitate the extension of free trade to sectors which involve cooperation with economies outside the Asia Pacific region.