Pacific summit closes with call to work for free trade

Sunday Nov. 20 2016. Front row from left Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trude

Pacific summit closes with call to work for free trade

USA president-elect Donald Trump says he'll begin to withdraw the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal on his first day in office.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would cement free trade among 12 nations encompassing almost 40 per cent of the world's GDP, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan and the United States.

Mr Trump has said he was not opposed to trade deals, but would sign only those he considers best for America.

The TPP trade deal was signed by 12 countries, including USA and Japan, seemingly aimed to counter China's rise.

Today's closed-door meetings at the APEC leaders' summit in Peru are a direct response to the anti-trade rhetoric coming out of the United States in the wake of Donald Trump's election victory, and from Britain after its vote to leave the European Union.

The text of the TPP was finalised in February this year, with 12 countries representing over 40 percent of the world's gross domestic product expected to ratify the trade deal. A deal backed by China, countries including Peru and Chile have expressed their interest in joining RCEP.

President-elect Donald Trump unveiled plans Monday for his first 100 days in office, including proposals related to immigration, trade deals and defense policy, using a video published online to briefly outline his proposals.

"We hope these free trade agreements can reinforce rather than thwart each other", said Geng.

On the building of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which was launched at the 2014 APEC meeting in Beijing, Xi hailed the smooth completion of the collective strategic study this year, saying it marked a new phase in FTAAP development.

Throughout his campaign, Mr Trump promised that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and build a wall along the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico. The big question is how much of Candidate Trump's wish list will translate into President Trump's policy.

Seeking to possibly fill the void in leadership on global trade, China said that more countries are now interested in RCEP than TPP.

Another way forward might be to make some cosmetic changes that would allow Trump to change his mind on the TPP without losing face, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key suggested.

APEC's 21 members from either side of the Pacific offered their own staunch defense of free trade as the annual summit ended, pledging to "fight against all forms of protectionism".

"We would like to push the negotiation process to make headway at an early date", said the spokesman, Geng Shuang, at a regular briefing.

Demonstrators take part in a protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), called by the organization "Chile better without TPP", at Citizenship Square in Santiago, capital of Chile, on February 4, 2016.

While Obama sought to be upbeat about the TPP's prospects, some experts say Trump's attacks on the agreement - which he called a "terrible deal" - and his Republican allies' control of Congress mean it is dead in the water.

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