Asia-Pacific leaders fail to agree joint statement amid trade tensions

19 Nov 18

For the first time, world leaders wrapped up an Asian economic summit without a formal joint statement because of trade tensions between the US and China.

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister Peter O’Neill, who hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this year, said “the two big giants in the room” had been unable to agree on the final statement.

He added that a chair’s statement would be released later. 

According to the CNN, all leaders at the meeting in Papua New Guinea were in agreement, except China. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said the it was because of disagreements on trade.

In his closing comments, O’Neill said APEC would try to ensure “free and open trade” in the region by 2020.

The summit was held against the backdrop of increased trade tension between the US and much of the world, especially China.   

The US Trump administration imposed tariffs on China, which has sparked a trade war, with ongoing retaliation.

Last week, president Donald Trump told White House reporters that he “may not have to” impose more tariffs on China, if the two countries “make a deal”.

At the summit this weekend, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison urged leaders to promote free, open trade and reject protectionism.

At the summit, US vice president Mike Pence said governments should “preserve your independence. And just like America, always put your country first”.

Prime minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad also said at the summit that the trade war between the US and China “has amplified the disruption to our trade and commerce”.

It is the first time in the 25 years of APEC that there has been no formal joint statement at the end of the annual summit.

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