THE pursuit of regional co-operation through the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) must not result in a trade bloc to hamper global free trade, warns the Director-General of Trade, Tony Miller. Mr Miller's comment follows the emergence of a number of proposals for a regional trade bloc from within APEC. ''Given Hongkong's firm commitment to the multilateral system and an early and successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round, we are concerned at the wrong signals that talk of this type of arrangement would send in the closing months of the Uruguay Round GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] negotiations,'' he told a Hongkong Exporters' Association luncheon yesterday. Among the trade bloc proposals is the Pacific Free Trade Area, which could be formed either by an arrangement between the North America Free Trade Agreement and an Asian Free Trade Agreement, or as a separate free trade area for APEC members. Mr Miller emphasised that the territory favoured multilateral free trade instead of regional trade blocs. ''Hongkong is interested in regional economic co-operation, but we are only willing to consider any of these proposals if they are GATT-consistent, outward-looking and liberal,'' he said. ''We are strongly of the view that regional initiatives should not become policy alternatives to the multilateral trading system under the GATT. ''The pursuit of regional co-operation must not result in arrangements which are inward looking and discriminatory against outside economies.'' Hongkong saw APEC as a forum complementary to GATT, and did not want it to become another free trade area, Mr Miller added. ''The best approach to world trade is an open, transparent and multilateral regime,'' he said. ''All selective trade groupings distort trade and investment flows to some degree. They are therefore only a poor second best to genuinely free global trade.'' This concept should be especially meaningful to Hongkong whose economy had thrived on free enterprise and free trade, he said. ''We must not lose sight of the adverse implications and consequences of regionalism, no matter how superficially appealing the concept,'' he said. Mr Miller will attend an APEC senior officials' meeting next week to discuss and consolidate proposals for an agenda for the ministerial meeting in November. The meeting next week will discuss reports from APEC working groups on trade issues of common concern, including tariff transparency and investment guides. The ministerial meeting will hear the findings by an eminent persons group from the region, which identifies trade issues affecting APEC economies. ''What Hongkong wants out of the APEC ministerial meeting in November this year is a ringing endorsement of the GATT system and a renewed commitment to completing the Uruguay Round this year,'' said Mr Miller. He said APEC would be important for smaller economies to discuss their problems, especially after the conclusion of GATT talks which were dominated by larger players. APEC is an inter-governmental forum for members to exchange views, for policy co-ordination and information exchange to explore common interests of members. It has 15 members, including Hongkong, China and Taiwan. Mr Miller said Hongkong took an active part in APEC activities, contributed 2.75 per cent of the 1993 budget and participated in working groups.