Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum takes up trade changes spurned by Trump

 U.S. President Donald Trump has declared his  “America First” protectionist policy  ministers from the China, Japan and other members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation grouping, which accounts for more than 40 percent of world trade.

As the meeting kicked off in Hanoi, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc highlighted APEC’s three decades of growth and said: “That’s the proof of our group’s effort on liberalization.”

A draft prepared at the meeting says

“In some of our communities there are increasing numbers of people questioning the benefits of globalization and free trade, spurring protectionist trends,” it said.

“Against that backdrop, we reaffirm our commitment to promote trade and investment liberalization.”

Meanwhile Trump’s U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, has been taking a hard line.  Lightizer told Japan’s  trade minister, Hiroshige Seko,  that the US would only  agreed to establish bilateral trade deals.  Lighthizer was expected to hold more individual meetings with other counterparts at the meeting.

In contrast, China, putting itself forward as a champion of global free trade is premoting   pushing a free trade agreement to encompass the vast majority of Asia’s economies. The U.S. has never been party to those discussions.

Japan has started to pave the way for creating an 11-member version of the TPP to establish high-level rules on trade in the Asia-Pacific without the U.S.  Japan  to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that Trump ditched a. The TPP excludes China but has a much broader scope than the trade agreement favored by Beijing.


Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters after meeting with Ishihara that most of the 11 ministers would “be able to get a clear view” of how to proceed with the TPP without the U.S.

Australia and New Zealand have aligned with Japan, but Vietnam and Malaysia have suggested they disagree with Tokyo’s proposal as they had hoped to take advantage of increased trade with the U.S. to expand their economies.

Mexico and Canada are believed to be reluctant to irritate Washington by joining an 11-nation TPP because they want to avoid renegotiating the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement, which is a bigger immediate priority for Washington

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