Daily Management Review

APEC Leaders Look to China on Trade, Vow to Fight Protectionism


11/21/2016




APEC Leaders Look to China on Trade, Vow to Fight Protectionism
After Donald Trump's election victory raised fears the United States would scrap free trade deals, Chinese officials said more countries are looking to join a China-led trading bloc even as Pacific Rim leaders vowed on Sunday to fight protectionism.
 
Trump threatened to impose steep tariffs against China and Mexico and also campaigned for U.S. president on a promise to pull out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
 
Regional leaders responded by saying they would push ahead with the TPP.
 
"We reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight against all forms of protectionism," they said at a summit meeting of the 21-country Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group in Peru.
 
President Barack Obama said abandoning TPP would be a mistake for the United States on his last foreign trip before he leaves the White House in January,

"I think not moving forward would undermine our position across the region and our ability to shape the rules of global trade in a way that reflects our values and our interests," Obama told a news conference at the end of the summit.
 
Obama says the TPP’s ratification is now up to the incoming Trump administration and has stopped seeking its congressional approval even though he had negotiated the deal.
 
Under the so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which does not currently include countries in the Americas, an alternative vision of free trade in Asia is being pushed by China which is not part of the TPP .
 
The current members want to reach a deal as soon as possible to counter rising protectionism and more countries are now seeking to join its 16-member bloc, including Peru and Chile, said Tan Jian, a senior member of China's delegation at the summit.
 
A goal of the APEC bloc that accounts for 57 percent of the world economy for long has been the broader Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific and the TPP and RCEP were both valid paths to achieving that aim, APEC leaders said in a final declaration.
 
"We encourage that all regional undertakings, including TPP and RCEP, remain open, transparent and inclusive and draw on each other," they said.
 
The TPP could continue without the United States, but others said that would require a complete renegotiation, some APEC leaders in Lima have suggested.
 
Zealand Prime Minister John Key suggested that making some cosmetic changes that would allow Trump to change his mind on the TPP without losing face could be another way forward.
 
In a likely reference to the China-led RCEP, calls for a "less ambitious" free trade agreement with fewer protections for workers and environmental standards were claimed to be heard already by Obama.
 
"That kind of agreement would obviously exclude U.S. workers and businesses and access to those markets," he said.
 
China's delegation said they should not just be for rich economies and warned against the "politicization" of trade agreements.
 
"If you have such high standards, then developing economies will have difficulty with trade," Jian told Reuters. A "low threshold for developing economies ... that is also important."
 
(Source:www.reuters.com)






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