Trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum decided during a meeting in Australia late last week that if the Doha round of global trade talks do not show sufficient progress by September, APEC will explore the option of launching their own free trade agreement.
The group includes the world's three largest economies: the U.S., China and Japan. This means that a the potential free trade agreement - which APEC is calling the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific - could greatly expand regional trade.
A deal would likely be years away and would require negotiating agricultural trade disagreements between the U.S., Japan and South Korea. However, with India and Brazil excluded from the 21 nations that would be involved in discussions, a final deal could be more realistic.