KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will attend a virtual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders on Friday to discuss the coronavirus and global economic recovery, and it is Lingering trade differences are likely to cloud the meeting.
Both leaders will lead the meeting of the leaders of the 21 nations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, organized by Malaysia, just two weeks after Trump lost the US elections.
Asia-Pacific leaders have called for more open and multilateral trade to support economic recovery, and have warned against protectionist trade policies.
After coming to power in 2017, Trump slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods, sparking a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
At the last APEC summit, in 2018, member countries failed to agree on a joint statement for the first time in the bloc’s history, as the United States and China disagreed on trade and investment.
In the run-up to Friday’s meeting, several APEC leaders warned against protectionism as the world grapples with the economic impact of the new coronavirus.
“As we face the greatest economic challenge of this generation, we must not repeat the mistakes of history by backtracking into protectionism,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during her remarks at the APEC CEO Dialogues on Friday.
“APEC must continue to commit to keeping markets open and trade flowing.”
Xi, for his part, said Thursday that “increasing unilateralism, protectionism and intimidation, as well as the backlash against economic globalization” had increased risks and uncertainties in the world economy.
The president noted that China will remain committed to multilateralism, openness and cooperation.
Other leaders from the Asia-Pacific region have also expressed hope that the Joe Biden administration will support multilateral trade.
Japan aims to expand the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday, which could satisfy the interest of China and the United Kingdom to join the agreement.
Information from Rozanna Latiff and A. Ananthalakshmi; additional information from Kiyoshi Takenaka and Ju-min Park in Tokyo; edited by Sam Holmes; translation by Jorge Martínez