Donald Trump

Trump, trade and the TPP: what to expect at the Apec summit in Peru

Trump’s election and its impact on regional trade pacts likely to be among topics dominating events, which will be attended by leaders including President Xi Jinping

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 11:14am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2016, 1:29am

A series of meetings, including a gathering of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation regional bloc, get underway on Monday in Lima, Peru.

The week of meetings marks the climax of a year of Apec gatherings hosted by the South American nation.

This is the second time Peru has hosted the annual forum for 21 Pacific Rim economies, which together account for half of global trade and 60 per cent of global GDP.

Apec aims to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region and, as host, the Peruvian government has defined four priority areas for the summit: human capital development, upgrades for small and medium-sized enterprises, a regional food market and regional economic integration.

The week includes the Apec CEO Summit, the Apec ministerial meeting for foreign and trade ministers, and the Apec Economic Leaders’ Meeting for state leaders.

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and his policies are expected to be among the major topics discussed.

Who will attend the meeting?

This will be the last Apec meeting attended by US President Barack Obama, who will step down on January 20.

President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also attend.

It will be the first for Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the host, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

But Duterte, who has been criticised, especially by the West, for the conduct of his war on drugs, said on Friday he had still not decided if he would attend because it involved a long flight, the Philippine Star reported.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is mired in a deepening political crisis, will miss the meeting, although South Korea’s foreign ministry said her absence was due to the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri will be in attendance as invited guests.

Will Trump’s election affect the summit?

This is the first regional event to bring together the heads of state of China, Russia, the United States and Japan since Trump won the US presidential election. Trump is widely seen as novice in foreign policy and has spoken out in favour of protectionism.

Business heads and political leaders may have reasons to worry given the US president-elect’s pledges to withdraw from existing trade and security treaties and to stamp out what he says are unfair trade practices by major exporters.

Taiwan’s pick for Apec summit voices hope of meeting Xi Jinping in Peru

Although it is unclear how far Trump will go to implement his campaign promises, such as imposing high tariffs on imports from China and Mexico, many worry that Trump’s victory will be the start of a new global geopolitical order.

What does it all mean for the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Officials from the Obama administration have confirmed that the White House will stop seeking approval from Congress for this ambitious trade deal – a key part of Obama’s pivot to Asia strategy.

Trump opposed the TPP during his campaign, calling the deal a “disaster” and “a rape of our country” that could send more jobs overseas.

All of the 12 nations involved in TPP are Apec members.

Pacific Rim nations urged to revise TPP without US before Trump cuts trade ties

The agreement was meant to lower trade barriers among some of the fastest-growing economies in Asia – with the notable exception of China – and cement ties with US allies in the face of China’s rising regional influence. Russia is also excluded from the agreement.

White House deputy national security adviser Wally Adeyemo said earlier that Obama would discuss the TPP situation with members during the Apec meetings.

Kuczynski has suggested Pacific-Rim countries forge a new TPP-like trade deal, but one that includes China and Russia.

Japan’s lower house endorsed the agreement immediately after Trump’s win.

What China will bring to America’s backyard?

On his third trip to Latin America, President Xi Jinping will visit Ecuador, Peru and Chile.

Deputy foreign minister Li Baodong indicated last week that China would use the Apec summit to rally support for the Beijing-led Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Some observers see the initiatives as rivals to the TPP.

Xi’s visit is also expected to bring more trade and investment deals to Latin America.