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APEC 2017: Multilateralism and beyond

By Snigdha Kalra

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit 2017 was held from 10th to 11th November in Da Nang, Vietnam. It revolved around the theme “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future.” Attendees of the summit included United States (US) President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe among a deluge of senior business executives. Several bilateral meetings were also held on the sidelines of the summit.

Trump: America first

Donald Trump, in his speech on Friday, made it clear in front of the APEC nations that are a part of a multilateral organisation, that he is not in favour of multilateralism. For him, nationalism takes precedence over common international interests. Urging everyone towards unilateralism, he said, “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”

US bows out of multilateralism

Trump opened the door for economic partnerships through bilateral trade deals with the US but showed vehement opposition to multilateral deals. These views were clearly evident in the way he pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a pact aimed at creating a more open international market to foster growth. In his address, he also said, “What we will no longer do is enter into large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible.” Following his exit, 11 countries are now left in the pact.

Trump also blamed the previous US administration for allowing other countries to take advantage of them, by not taking stricter action on American trade laws. Without naming any country, in particular, he said, “If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs. I wish previous administrations in my country saw what was happening and did something about it. They did not, but I will.”

Xi Jinping: Open China

In contrast to Trump’s “America First” policy, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his address, talked about economic cooperation and about making the international economy more open and inclusive. Speaking immediately after Donald Trump, he said, “Over the last few decades, economic globalisation has contributed significantly to global growth. Indeed, it has become an irreversible historical trend.” He said that China will continue to build an open economy and work hard to achieve mutual benefits and that countries that close down their economies will lag behind in progress. He added, “China will not slow its steps in opening up itself. We will work together with other countries to create new drivers of common development through the launching of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative.

Seal the deal: TPP

Despite US’ exit from the TPP and Trump’s very clear stance against multilateralism, the summit became a platform for negotiations to seal the pact amongst the remaining countries, on Saturday. The TPP will be a huge step towards global economic cooperation and will benefit all the member countries through tariff-free trade and better access to international markets. Clearly, the 11 remaining countries, including China, do not mind implementing it in the absence of the US. If Trump steers clear of the deal, it may only be to his disadvantage.

Featured Image Credits: Presidencia Perú via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

This post first appeared on The Indian Economist | For The Curious Mind, please read the originial post: here

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APEC 2017: Multilateralism and beyond


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