Future of World Trade Organization splits leaders at Asia Pacific summit


Trade wars benefit no one and must be solved by negotiation rather than tit-for-tat tariffs, Australia's Prime Minister said on Saturday (Nov 17) ahead of an Apec summit likely to be dominated by US-China trade tensions.

Trudeau's office said China agreed with Canada about the need for reforms to the World Trade Organization - a group Trump dislikes - when the prime minister met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday in Singapore.

The anti-protectionism sentiment was also echoed by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

United States Vice-President Mike Pence told a gathering of business leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit that there would be no backing down from tariffs until China changed its ways.

Speaking through a translator, Abe said he is ready to work with Trudeau "to expand this trade area which will have the free and fair rules" and forge a closer relationship "to address various global challenges".

There are no plans at the moment for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to have a one-on-one meeting with Xi, though he could bump into his Chinese counterpart in the hallways of the busy summit.

But at an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Port Moresby on Sunday, Morrison played down suggestions relations in the Pacific were fractured.

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A brainchild of former US president Barack Obama, the CPTPP was thrown into disarray after US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the pact previous year, soon after his 2016 election.

The deal, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP for short, has been a repeated topic of conversation for Trudeau during his time in the capital of this island nation.

Vietnam this week became the seventh of the 11 countries to ratify the CPTPP through its national legislature.

His speech was a clear reference to the escalating trade war between the United States and China, along with the general protectionism of US President Donald Trump.

Having either the USA or China in the deal would help small- and medium-sized economies counteract the influence of either country, said Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, an expert on the issues facing the Asia-Pacific region. He also said the Liberals would fulfil the government's obligations under the agreement when asked about opening up more of Canada's protected dairy sector.

"There is still of course work to be done, but there is no question that this has been a very good trip to celebrate that we're moving forward on a great trade deal that completes Canada's access to nearly two-thirds of the global economy under free trade deals", he said.

Sunday marks the last day of Trudeau's 10-day trek across Europe and Asia, hoping in the latter region to push wider trade opportunities for Canadian businesses.