APEC leaders vow to fight protectionism, look to China on trade

Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:18pm EST
 
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By Mitra Taj and Jeff Mason

LIMA (Reuters) - Pacific Rim leaders vowed on Sunday to fight protectionism and Chinese officials said more countries are looking to join a China-led trading bloc after Donald Trump's election victory raised fears the United States would scrap free trade deals.

Trump campaigned for U.S. president on a promise to pull out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, and also threatened to impose steep tariffs against China and Mexico.

Regional leaders responded on Sunday, saying they would push ahead with the TPP.

"We reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight against all forms of protectionism," they said at a summit meeting of the 21-country Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group in Peru.

On his last foreign trip before he leaves the White House in January, President Barack Obama said abandoning TPP would be a mistake for the United States.

"I think not moving forward would undermine our position across the region and our ability to shape the rules of global trade in a way that reflects our values and our interests," Obama told a news conference at the end of the summit.

Obama negotiated the TPP but has stopped seeking its congressional approval and says its ratification is now up to the incoming Trump administration.

China is not part of the TPP and has been pushing an alternative vision of free trade in Asia under the so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which does not currently include countries in the Americas.   Continued...

 
Wearing a Peruvian shawl, U.S President Barack Obama poses for a family photo at the APEC Summit in Lima, Peru November 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque