APEC leaders have said they will pursue free trade deals despite Donald Trump’s election victory.
During the campaign, Donald Trump called for greater protection for US jobs and said he would tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – the biggest multinational trade deal in years.
After a two-day summit in Peru, leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation defended the benefits of open markets.
China also claimed growing support for a wider 21-nation trade deal it backs.
In a statement at the end of the summit the APEC leaders said: “We reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight against all forms of protectionism.”
It also referred to the “rising skepticism over trade”, after the uneven recovery since the financial crisis had caused more people to question whether globalization worked for enough people.
However, the leaders said that the “the benefits of trade and open markets need to be communicated to the wider public more effectively, emphasizing how trade promotes innovation, employment and higher living standards”.
The TPP pact involves 12 countries: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
It aims to deepen economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.
Donald Trump said the proposal was a “terrible deal” that would send American jobs to countries with cheaper labor.
The agreement must be ratified in the US Congress, which remains in the hands of Donald Trump’s party – meaning it’s expected to fail.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had also opposed the pact.
After the APEC summit, President Barack Obama reiterated his support for the pact, saying not going ahead would undermine the US position across Asia Pacific.
Barack Obama warned he was already hearing calls for a less ambitious trade agreement that would exclude US workers and businesses.
“When it comes to trade, I believe the answer is not to pull back,” he said.
“The answer is to do trade right, making sure it has strong labor standards, strong environmental standards, that it addresses ways in which workers and ordinary people can benefit rather than be harmed by global trade.”
However, while some leaders think the TPP could go ahead without the US, others say it would be impossible without a complete renegotiation.
Over the weekend, New Zealand PM John Key suggested there could be minor changes to the agreement that would give Donald Trump enough wiggle room to support it, without losing face.
Meanwhile Peruvian President Pedro Pablo said the TPP should not be written off, despite Donald Trump’s win.
China – which is not part of the TPP – has set out an alternative vision for regional trade.
Its proposal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), does not include the Americas.
After the APEC summit, Beijing said several nations including Peru and Chile had expressed interest in joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The US is fully lifting its embargo on sales of lethal weapons to Vietnam, its one-time enemy, President Barack Obama has announced.
Speaking during a visit to Vietnam and talks with its leaders, President Barack Obama said the move removed a “lingering vestige of the Cold War”.
The US is trying to bolster its relationship with its Pacific allies, as China asserts territorial claims.
However, Barack Obama said the embargo decision was not related to US policy on China.
“It’s based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam,” the president said in Hanoi.
Vietnam is one of several countries in the region involved in maritime disputes with China. The US insists on the right to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
In 2014, a row over a Chinese oil rig near the Paracel islands led to clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels and anti-China riots in Vietnam.
According to White House officials, the arms ban, in force since 1984, would be lifted only if human rights in Vietnam improved.
Barack Obama said after talks with President Tran Dai Quang: “Sales will need to still meet strict requirements, including those related to human rights, but this change will ensure that Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself.”
Vietnam had been arguing for an end to the embargo, which was partially lifted in 2014.
Barack Obama’s visit comes 41 years after the end of the Vietnam War in which the US sought to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam.
Several million Vietnamese – civilians, communist fighters and South Vietnamese soldiers – were killed, as well as more than 58,000 US soldiers.
By the end of the war in 1975, the communists had gained control of the entire country.
While in Vietnam, Barack Obama is expected to meet dissidents and make the case for Vietnam to remove obstacles to the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal.
Barack Obama flies later to Japan for a summit of the G7 industrialized nations. His visit will include a tour of Hiroshima, where the world’s first nuclear attack was carried out in 1945 by the US, killing at least 140,000 people.
Hillary Clinton has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal championed by President Barack Obama.
The historic trade deal involves 12 countries along the Pacific rim, including the US, Australia and Japan.
In a recent interview, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said the agreement left many “unanswered questions” and did not met the “high bar” she had set.
“I am not in favor of what I have learned about it,” she told PBS.
The former Secretary of State joins rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, in opposing the agreement.
Photo Getty Images
The deal took five years to negotiate and covers 40% of the global economy.
In an interview on October 7, Hillary Clinton said she would only support a trade bill that helped American workers.
“I have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good American jobs, raise wages and advance our national security and I still believe that is the high bar we have to meet,” she said.
President Barack Obama, for whom the deal would be a prime economic achievement of his second term, said the deal would level the global playing field for US workers.
“[The deal] includes the strongest commitments on labor and the environment of any trade agreement in history,” he said after the agreement was reached.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton also plans to propose a tax on high-frequency trading, her campaign said.
The tax would target securities transactions with excessive levels of order cancelations that can destabilize the markets, a campaign aide said.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – the world’s biggest ever trade deal – was signed into existence on October 5.
The TPP cuts trade tariffs and sets common standards in trade for 12 Pacific rim countries, including the United States and Japan.
It marks the end of five years of often bitter and tense negotiations.
The deal covers about 40% of the world economy and was signed after five days of talks in Atlanta in the US.
Supporters say it could be worth billions of dollars to the countries involved but critics say it was negotiated in secret and is biased towards corporations.
Despite the success of the negotiations, the deal still has to be ratified by lawmakers in each country.
For President Barack Obama, the trade deal is a major victory.
He said: “This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, said: “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again.”
Bernie Sanders said the deal would cost US jobs and hurt consumers and that he would “do all that I can to defeat this agreement” in Congress.
China was not involved in the agreement, and the Obama administration is hoping it will be forced to accept most of the standards laid down by TTP.
He said: “When more than 95% of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy.
“We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.”
Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe told reporters the deal was a “major outcome not just for Japan but also for the future of the Asia-Pacific” region.
The final round of talks was delayed by negotiations over how long pharmaceutical corporations should be allowed to keep a monopoly period on their drugs.
The US wanted 12 years of protection, saying that by guaranteeing revenues over a long period it encouraged companies to invest in new research.
Australia, New Zealand and several public health groups argued for five years before allowing cheaper generic or “copy-cat” into the market.
They said a shorter patent would bring down drug costs for health services and bring lifesaving medicine to poorer patients.
Even though a compromise was reached, no definitive protection period was confirmed.
Speaking at a press conference following the deal, US Trade Representative Michael Froman hailed the deal as the first to set a period of protection for patents on new drugs, which he said would “incentivize” drug producers.
However, the Washington-based Biotechnology Industry Association said it was “very disappointed” by the reports that the agreement fell short of the 12-year protections sought by the US.
The auto industry was another area of intense negotiation with countries agonizing over how much of a vehicle had to be manufactured within the TPP countries in order to qualify for duty-free status.
Agriculture proved another sticking point with countries like New Zealand wanting more access to markets in Canada, Mexico, Japan and the US.
Canada meanwhile fought to keep access to its domestic dairy and poultry markets strictly limited. The issue and its impact on rural voters is particularly sensitive ahead of the federal election in two weeks time.