Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong today unveiled plans to push ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which, he said, would act as the nucleus of free trade and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.
The TPP, he said, is a free trade agreement by a small but significant grouping of four countries - Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore - that covers developed and developing economies as also both Asia and the Americas.
He said TPP is designed in a way that other economies can join in and accede to it over time, expanding the free trade agreement significantly.
Lee said the US, Australia, Peru and Vietnam have expressed interest to join. This will be a significant advance towards the ideal of a free trade area, which encompasses the whole Asia-Pacific, he added.
"We have an integration agenda which is making steady progress. We have signed an ASEAN Charter, which contains significant lists of items, which need to be done, and which will be done. We have endorsed a blueprint to form an ASEAN economic community by 2015," Lee said.
For this, he said, the ASEAN has taken a decision to pursue a connectivity initiative, to enhance the land, sea communications, internet, the physical, as well as people and system links between countries. A well-integrated ASEAN would be able to be a significant partner to China, India, America, and other regions of the world, he added.