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Countering China, APEC endorses Trump’s vision

APEC

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member states have endorsed the views of US President Donald Trump that seek to end protectionism and “unfair trade practices” in the final communique adopted at the APEC summit in Vietnam.While 11 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreed to proceed ahead with the trade deal without the United States under a new name termed as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)which aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products.The total trade of these 11 counttries amounted to $356 billion in 2016.

Concluding their two-day meeting, the leaders of the 21 member countries of APEC said in a joint statement, “We will work together to make trade more inclusive, support improved market access opportunities, and address unfair trade practices,We urgently call for the removal of market-distorting subsidies and other types of support by governments and related entities.”

Aimed at countering the China’s increasing dominance in Asia,US President Donald Trump shared its vision for the future of global trade at Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) meeting in Vietnam.Apec-a 21 member countries from the Pacific region is equivalent to about 60% of the world’s GDP.

Speaking about his Indo -Pacific policy, Trump reiterated his mission of putting America first and said US would no longer tolerate “chronic trade abuses” by Asian nations.Maintaning not to criticise Chinese President Xi Jinping,Trump preferred to blame his predecessors for having weak American trade laws.But his pledge to fight the audacious theft of intellectual property and the reference of state capitalism were directed at Beijing. Trump shows his diplomatic style with Xi by telling it wasn’t China’s fault but a US mistake and says he wanted a “constructive approach,” encouraging the two nations to “put aside and diffuse differences while at the same time building common ground.”

The final APEC communique bore the imprints of Trump’s preference for “bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements” rather than broad multilateral deals that had led to trade imbalances. Trump sharply condemned large multilateral trade deals during his keynote speech at the annual APEC leaders summit saying it had created trade imbalances as US lowered market barriers and ended tariffs .Trump had already pulled US out of the regional Trans-Pacific Partnership – a major trade deal with 12 Apec nations with an argument that it has damaged US economic interests.

For the first time, APEC countries have sharply criticised the World Trade Organisation and stressed for the need to introduce reforms in the international trade body so as to address unfair trade practices and bring effective monitoring system.

He said America would make bilateral agreements with “any Indo-Pacific partner who abides by fair reciprocal trade”, but only “on a basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit”.

Defending multilateral trade deals,Chinese President Xi Jinping said that Globalisation was an “irreversible historical trend” but the philosophy behind free trade needed to be re-purposed to be “more open, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all”.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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