In what is being seen as an imprint of the efforts of U.S. President Donald Trump to redesign the global trade scenario, addressing of “unfair trade practices” and “market distorting subsidies” would be the priority of Asia-Pacific leaders, according to a statement issued by them.
There has been clash between the concept of multinational deals, of which China is the main proponent, and Trump’s “America First” policy and this contrasting vision was put on show at the regional summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries organized in Vietnam.
The Trans Pacific trade deal was seemingly kept alive at the APEC summit by 11 countries, the future of which had been put into jeopardy after Trump withdrew from it earlier this year on the pretext of protecting of American jobs.
The joint statement of the APEC this year however, differed considerably to what the 21 APEC countries had issued last year.
“We will work together to make trade more inclusive, support improved market access opportunities, and address unfair trade practices,” the statement read. “We urgently call for the removal of market-distorting subsidies and other types of support by governments and related entities.”
In the city of Danang, Trump had more or less also spoken on the same themes.
Calls for improvement of World Trade Organization (WTO) and according more importance to bilateral trade deals and bigger agreements were also mentioned.
With China being the biggest of them all, Trump has alleged that huge trade surpluses have been built by Asian countries by the use of state subsidies and state measures which distort trade, and this is the reason, according to the U.S. President, that the U.S. has found itself at a disadvantage with relation to its trading partners.
The language that was to be used for the APEC statements resulted in wrangling between trade and foreign ministers earlier in the week.
Opposed to Trump’s attempts to reshape the traditional wordings were 20 countries, said officials.
The core reasons to the forming of the APEC was a push for free trade and opposing protectionism and the opposing countries also managed to get such wordings into the final statement.
While agreeing to go ahead with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal even without the U.S., countries in the deal provided a boost for the principle of multilateral trade pacts.
Rechristened as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), ministers at the meeting announced their closeness to a deal despite the last-minute resistance given from Canada.
The U.S. was hoped to be brought back by the deal, according to the Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.
With trades totaling $356 billion last year, the TPP aims to bring together 11 nations who wants to remove tariffs on industrial and farm products and Japan has been at the forefront, lobbying to get the deal through, in part to counter the growing dominance of China in Asia.
(Adapted from Reuters)