Apec members vow support for China-backed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific

(From left) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Joko Widodo arrive to attend the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit plenary session at the International C
(From left) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Joko Widodo arrive to attend the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, north of Beijing on Nov 11, 2014. Members ofApec have repeated their commitment to a trade liberalisation framework being pushed for by China, a joint statement said on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (Reuters) - Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) have repeated their commitment to a trade liberalisation framework being pushed for by China, a joint statement said on Tuesday.

The 21 member economies would pursue the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) in a step-by-step manner based on consensus, the group said in a statement after a two-day summit attended by state leaders in Beijing.

The FTAAP is being championed by China and is seen by some as a diversion from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which is backed by the United States but excludes China.

"We agree that Apec should make more important and meaningful contributions as an incubator to translate the FTAAP from a vision to reality," Apec leaders said in a declaration.

"The FTAAP will be realized outside of Apec, parallel with the Apec process. Apec should maintain its non-binding, voluntary cooperation principles in its contributions to the realization of the FTAAP."