Australia focuses on Pacific after APEC meeting ends in disagreement

APEC leaders divided after US, China spat

Australia focuses on Pacific after APEC meeting ends in disagreement

Leaders of 21 Pacific Rim economies failed to agree Sunday on a joint declaration for the first time, because of a deepening divide between the United States and China over trade and other issues.

Elsewhere in the Sino region, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wrapped up its latest forum held in Papua New Guinea late on Friday, and a lack of consensus amongst the Pacific leaders sees APEC failing to ratify and complete a leadership communique as members failed to come to a group agreement on future progress on multilateral trade terms, and Zhang Shaogang, the director-general of the global division of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce stated that a "chairman's statement" will instead be issued by Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato. "You all know who the two big giants in the room were, so what can I say", Prime Minister Peter O'Neill told reporters.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during the Apec CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea November 17, 2018.

The US and China presented contrasting visions for the future of trade and investment in the region in competing policy speeches on Saturday.

Xi also said that reforms of the World Trade Organisation should be created to promote multilateral trading systems instead of "having the organisation overhauled".

He called for a stronger World Trade Organization and defended his signature Belt-and-Road Initiative, saying it's "not a trap as some people have labeled it". The envisioned regional pact encompasses about 40 percent of the world's population, about half of global trade by volume and some 60 percent of the world economy.

Sources told AFP news agency that the U.S. had pressed for the leaders to issue a statement that would amount to a denunciation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a call for its wholesale reform.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters there were differences between several nations including China and the US Draft versions of the communique showed the US wanted strong language against unfair trade practices that it accuses China of.

APEC leaders divided after US, China spat

"There are always disagreements behind the scenes at these sorts of summits, but normally by the end, publicly, a document is published that all the leaders can put their names to", he said.

Xi also lashed out at "America First" trade protectionism, saying it was a "short-sighted approach" that was "doomed to failure".

"There are differences today", Pence said.

"It boils down to mutual intransigence between the US and China", said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University. Those comments helped United States stocks erase losses, as investors bet on whether Trump will impose even more tariffs on Chinese goods than the $250 billion already in place. Later, Pence told reporters he was "very hopeful" the USA and China could reach a deal, but "things have to change" for that to happen.

Aside from trade, the leaders extensively discussed financing for infrastructure projects and investment in the Asia-Pacific region at a time when China is increasing its influence through Xi's "One Belt, One Road" infrastructure initiative. And too often they come with strings attached and lead to staggering debt.

"The assistance provided by China has been warmly welcomed by our partners in this region and beyond", Wang Xiaolong, a foreign ministry official, told a news conference.

China's growing military prowess and debt-fueled economic aid to smaller countries has increased concerns that it could seek a base for its armed forces in the Pacific or Indian Oceans.

"Attempts to form exclusive blocs or impose one's will on others should be rejected", Xi said.

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Germany kicked off their campaign with a goalless draw at home to France , but fell apart on the road. From the beginning to the end, we played really well", Koeman added.

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