Asia-Pacific leaders agree to address 'unfair trade practices'

A joint statement issued by 21 countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation showed the influence of US president Donald Trump, who has vowed to rewrite trade pacts he sees as unfavourable to the United States

APEC leaders pose for the family photo at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Pictured from left to right: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; Hong Kong's Carrie Lam, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski; Chile's President Michelle Bachelet; Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte; Chinese President Xi Jinping; Russian President Vladimir Putin; Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang; U.S. President Donald Trump; Indonesian President Joko Widodo; Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; South Korean President Moon Jae-in; New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak; Taiwan's representative James Soong; Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

Asia-Pacific leaders on Saturday agreed to address "unfair trade practices" and urgently called for the removal of "market distorting subsidies", in contrast to communiques they have issued in the past.

A joint statement issued by 21 countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) following their meeting in Vietnam showed the influence of US president Donald Trump, who has vowed to rewrite trade pacts he sees as unfavourable to the United States.

"We will work together to make trade more inclusive, support improved market access opportunities, and address unfair trade practices," the statement said.

"We urgently call for the removal of market-distorting subsidies and other types of support by governments and related entities."

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In the statement, the leaders also agreed on the need to improve the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) "negotiating, monitoring and dispute settlement functions". The joint statement from last year's Apec meeting was not critical of the WTO. Last year's statement also made no mention of bilateral trade.

In this year's statement, however, leaders noted the "importance of bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements".

The change in the trade language shows the influence of Mr Trump's "America First" policy. Mr Trump has said he prefers to do bilateral trade deals, and in one of his first acts as president pulled the United States out of the ambitious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.

Ahead of his trip to Asia, Mr Trump last week called the US trade deficit with China "embarrassing" and "horrible".

A separate joint statement was issued by Apec ministers earlier on Saturday, three days later than planned because of wrangling over traditional language that the US wanted to change.

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