Published: Tue, November 20, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

APEC fails to reach consensus as U.S.-China divide dominates

APEC fails to reach consensus as U.S.-China divide dominates

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on the role of the World Trade Organization, which governs global trade, officials said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese officials "forced their way" into the office of Papua New Guinea's foreign minister on Saturday and demanded a meeting to complain about the proposed joint statement, only to be "escorted away by police after a confrontation".

"If we do not do that, we will just become a colony of China", the leader of the People's Movement for Change political party told SCMP.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his speech at APEC to strongly criticize the US-China trade war while inviting other nations to participate in a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Pence said in a blunt speech on Saturday there would be no end to USA tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods until China changed its ways.

The US has imposed additional tariffs of US$250 billion (8.21 trillion baht) on Chinese goods this year and Beijing has retaliated with its own tariffs on American exports.

In response to questions about the multilateral trading system, Wang said that during the meeting, most members expressed their support for multilateralism and the multilateral trading system, expecting the World Trade Organization to play its role. "Those prevented there being a full consensus on the communique".

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

Speaking to reporters before leaving Papua New Guinea, Vice President Mike Pence, traveling in Asia over the past week, said he twice spoke privately-briefly and candidly-to Mr. Xi during the APEC summit.

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.

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Xi did not mention the USA or Pence in his Sunday speech, but said differences between countries were normal, adding: "What is important is for us to stay committed to the shared goal of common development ... address differences through consultation".

As he left the capital of Port Moresby, he listed U.S. differences with China, saying: "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", Vice President Pence said of the Chinese agenda as he departed Papua New Guinea.

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

Since that time the U.S. has initiated a trade war with China in an effort to close the US$375 billion trade deficit between the two sides.

But ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that no developing country would fall into debt difficulties because of cooperation with China and that cooperating with Beijing could help raise their independent development capabilities.

No-one was known to be hurt, Kakas said, adding that he did not yet know how many police and soldiers were involved in the incident in the nation's capital Port Moresby.

Leaders pose for a family photo ahead of the retreat session during the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on November 18, 2018. But the US and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states.

Australia and the United States will also jointly expand the Lombrum naval base on Manus Island, opening up a key staging point into the contested South China Sea.

The United States and its allies, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, countered on Sunday with a $1.7 billion plan to deliver reliable electricity and the internet to PNG.

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