Australian PM urges global leaders to reject protectionism, embrace free trade

19 Novembre, 2018, 18:12 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned APEC leaders against burdening small nations with debt

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison followed by mounting a full-throated defence of free trade. Reform of the WTO is a topic that is likely to sow division at the summit.

Morrison meanwhile offered a preview of US-Vice President Mike Pence's speech, which is expected to flesh out a trilateral effort involving Washington, Australia and Japan to help finance infrastructure building in the Asia-Pacific.

In a curtain raiser speech ahead of addresses by the leaders of the United States and China, both embroiled in a bitter trade war, Morrison told a high-powered business forum on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit that "tit-for-tat protectionism and threats of trade wars are in no one's interest".

His comments come against the backdrop of a growing trade war between China and the United States, and attempts by Beijing to cement new influence throughout the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.

"There was broad agreement on how we need to support our citizens and work forward towards better co-operation", Trudeau said at his closing press conference.

The U.S. has openly blocked the appointments of new judges to the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism, known as the appellate body - a tactic that threatens to paralyze the organization and prevent it from making decisions.

There are no plans at the moment for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to have a one-on-one meeting with Xi, though he could bump into his Chinese counterpart in the hallways of the busy summit. That left the group of 21 nations in disarray, unable to agree on even a routine joint statement like those that had closed every other Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit since 1989.

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China and the United States have been locked in an escalating trade war since Trump won election in 2016.

"We are witnessing a rising tide of trade protectionism along with financial volatility in some emerging economies", Morrison said.

Vietnam this week became the seventh of the 11 countries to ratify the CPTPP through its national legislature.

Observers say there is now debate among signatories about whether China should be part of the deal, or the United States should be let back in after President Donald Trump pulled out of the pact.

Having either the USA or China in the deal would help small- and medium-sized economies counteract the influence of either country, said Sen.

In his meeting with Morrison, Trudeau said Canada and Australia have been "aligned over these past couple of days on big issues of trade and the rules-based order", but noted that "conversations are going on to the last minute". He also said the Liberals would fulfil the government's obligations under the agreement when asked about opening up more of Canada's protected dairy sector.

"It is not created to serve any hidden geopolitical agenda", President Xi said.

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