APEC fails to reach consensus on leaders’ communique amid US-China divisions

November 18, 2018  

China warns the world is facing a choice between co-operation and confrontation as protectionism and unilateralism grows.

13:22, UK,

Leaders of Asia-Pacific economies have failed to agree a communique at a summit in Papua New Guinea after a war of words between the US and China over trade and investment.

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 international trade.

A statement will later be issued by the meeting’s chairman, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Mr O’Neill said “the entire world is worried” about tensions between China and the US.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were differences between several nations including China and the US.

Draft versions of the communique showed the US had called for strong language against unfair trade practices that it accuses China of.

The two-day summit was acrimonious and highlighted competition between China and the West for influence in the South Pacific.

US vice president Mike Pence and China’s president Xi Jinping traded blows in speeches on Saturday.

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.

Mr Xi said the world is facing a choice between co-operation and confrontation as protectionism and unilateralism grows and added that the rules of global institutions set up after the Second World War such as the WTO should not be exploited for selfish agendas.

Mr Pence said that during the weekend he had two “candid” conversations with Mr Xi, who is expected to meet Donald Trump at a G20 summit in Buenos Aires at the end of the month.

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Mr Pence said: “There are differences today. They begin with trade practices, with tariffs and quotas, forced technology transfers, the theft of intellectual property.

“It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights.”

He said the US is interested in a better relationship “but there has to be change” from China’s side.

The US, New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they would work with Papua New Guinea’s government to bring electricity to 70% of its people by 2030. Currently, less than 20% have a reliable electricity supply.

Mr Pence said: “The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger.”

A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the US vision of a free and open Pacific.

© 2018 Sky UK