APEC summit ends without joint statement amid US-China tensions

Jeannie Matthews
November 20, 2018

China congratulates the success of the meeting, and appreciates the active role of Papua New Guinea as the host, said Wang.

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby could not reach agreement on the role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which governs global trade.

In his closing comments, Mr O'Neill said Apec would try to ensure "free and open trade" in the region by 2020.

-China trade divide at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that ended Sunday, with the discord meaning no joint declaration was issued from the meeting for the first time in its history.

The rising conflict between the United States and China, who are now engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war, played out in the room during the APEC Leaders Meeting in Port Moresby on Sunday afternoon (Sunday evening NZT). "Those prevented there from being a full consensus on the communique".

The collapse of the summit, staged in impoverished Papua New Guinea at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, much of it covered by China, followed duelling speeches from President Xi of China and Mike Pence, the United States vice-president.

Mr Pence said he respected Mr Xi and China but criticised the world's second largest economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.

The Trump administration has repeatedly accused China of economic coercion, and the two nations have already slapped competing tariffs on exports worth billions of dollars. He said the rules of global institutions set up after World War II such as the World Trade Organization should not be bent for selfish agendas.

Pence told reporters that during the weekend he had two "candid" conversations with Xi, who is expected to meet President Donald Trump at a Group of 20 summit at the end of this month in Buenos Aires.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said APEC was a "disappointing" lost opportunity to bring China and the United States together. "It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights", Pence told reporters travelling with him.

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Xi urged the world to "say no to protectionism and unilateralism", warning it was a "short-sighted approach" that was "doomed to failure".

Pence also took direct aim at Xi's signature Belt and Road initiative, saying in his speech countries should not accept debt that compromised their sovereignty.

He pledged that China will increase its input for the development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

According to the Associated Press, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said after the meeting, "I don't think it will come as a huge surprise that there are differing visions" on trade.

Giant billboards of a beaming Xi Jinping were erected around Port Moresby and, for his state visit, red Chinese flags fluttered the length of a new (China-funded) road inaugurated by the president himself.

In Port Moresby, the impact of China's aid and loans is highly visible but the USA and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states.

While noting that China has great power and wealth, Juffa said Papua New Guinea can choose to develop and modernise at its own pace to maintain its position as an independent nation.

On Sunday, the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they'd work with Papua New Guinea's government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde told Apec leaders yesterday that a trade conflict could reduce world gross domestic product (GDP) by some 0.8 per cent. Mr Lee said the amount is derived from the direct impact of tariffs, as well as the implications on investment and on market confidence, among other things.

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