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Trump, Xi to Meet at Virtual Asia Pacific Forum As Trade Spat Endures

Trump, Xi to Meet at Virtual Asia Pacific Forum As Trade Spat Endures

BEIJING – US President, Donald Trump, and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, will attend a virtual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders on Friday to discuss the coronavirus and the global economic recovery, with lingering trade differences likely to cloud the meeting.
The duo will attend a meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders from 21 countries, hosted virtually by Malaysia, just two weeks after Trump lost his reelection bid.
Asia-Pacific leaders called for more open and multilateral trade to support economic recovery and warned against protectionist trade policies such as those introduced by Trump since 2017.
At the last APEC summit in 2018, countries failed to agree on a joint communiqué for the first time in the bloc’s history, with the United States and China at odds over trade and investments.
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, several APEC leaders have warned of protectionism as the world grapples with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus.
“As we face the greatest economic challenge of this generation, we must not repeat the mistakes of history by retreating into protectionism,” New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. said on Friday during dialogues with the CEO of APEC.
“APEC must continue to be committed to keeping markets open and trade flowing.”
Xi said Thursday that “the rise of unilateralism, protectionism and intimidation as well as backlash against economic globalization” had added to the risks and uncertainties in the global economy.
He said China will remain committed to multilateralism, openness and cooperation.
Other Asia-Pacific leaders have also expressed hope that a Joe Biden administration will engage more and support multilateral trade.
Trump introduced tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese goods, sparking a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, and also pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.
The United States is also absent from the world’s largest free trade bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (RCEP) – a pact of 15 countries backed by China and signed last week.
The Trump administration has been criticized for a lower level of engagement in Asia. The only time he joined an APEC summit – held annually – was in 2017. Last year’s summit in Chile was canceled due to violent protests.
Trump also missed two virtual meetings on Asia last week: the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and the broader East Asia summit.
In addition to working on a joint communiqué, APEC leaders are also expected to discuss the bloc’s post-2020 vision, which would replace the 1994 Bogor targets – a set of targets on reducing barriers to trade and investment – which expire this year.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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