Asia-Pacific leaders push for freer trade after Trump
KUALA LUMPUR: Asia-Pacific leaders called on Thursday for open and multilateral trade to support a global economy battered by the novel coronavirus, and some hoped for more engagement with the United States under a Joe Biden administration.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, among the leaders at a virtual meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, rejected protectionism and said globalisation was “irreversible”, a day before U.S. President Donald Trump was expected to join in the gathering.
“We will not reverse course or run against historical trend by ‘decoupling’ or forming a small circle to keep others out,” Xi said at a forum ahead of the APEC leaders meeting to be held virtually in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
“China will remain committed to openness and cooperation, and adhere to multilateralism and the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,” he said.
Xi said “mounting unilateralism, protectionism and bullying as well as backlash against economic globalisation” had added to risks and uncertainties in the world economy.
Trump has introduced protectionist trade policies since coming to power in 2017, including tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese products that launched a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
The APEC leaders’ meeting comes as economies are trying to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and days after Trump lost his bid for a second term.
Trump, who has yet to concede and begin a transfer of government to President-elect Biden, was due to represent the United States at the virtual summit on Friday, a U.S. official said. It will be the first time he has joined an APEC summit since 2017, the only time he has participated.
Biden has signalled a return to multilateralism pursued during Barack Obama’s presidency, though questions remain over whether the new president would reverse Trump-era policies. - Reuters