DANANG, Vietnam -- Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member states called for reciprocal trade and a fight against "all unfair trade practices" on Nov. 11, a move heavily influenced by complaints from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Concluding their two-day meeting the 21 country heads said in a joint statement that they remain committed to "free and open" trade and investment in Asia-Pacific, and to making trade "more inclusive". But at the same time they also pledged to fight against unfair practices.
"We urgently call for the removal of market-distorting subsidies and other types of support by governments and related entities," the leaders said in the Danang Declaration.
The remarks echoed Trump's Nov. 10 speech during the APEC CEO Summit, when he criticized the use of government subsidies and the unfair practices of state-owned enterprises in other countries.
Trump said he will only enter bilateral trade agreements with Indo-Pacific nations -- a group that includes non-APEC member India -- that will "abide by the principles of fair and reciprocal trade".
The US president also used his speech to clearly distance himself from any multilateral trade framework. The APEC leaders' subsequent statement acknowledged Trump's stance as well as the preferences of the other members.
"We note the importance of bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements, and commit to working to ensure they complement the multilateral trade agreements," the APEC leaders' statement said.
The joint statement also incorporates Trump's criticism against the World Trade Organization (WTO). In his Nov. 10 speech Trump said the WTO had not treated the US fairly with its embrace of nations that "did not abide by its [the WTO's] stated principles".
"We commit to work together to improve the functioning of the WTO, including its negotiating, monitoring, and dispute settlement functions, to adequately address challenges facing the system," the statement said. "We agree to accelerate efforts to address WTO-inconsistent barriers to trade and investment."
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