Wednesday, 02 December, 2020


China’s Xi Vows No Decoupling in Call to Reject Protectionism

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is seen at his office in Putrajaya Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is seen at his office in Putrajaya
Conrad Doyle | 20 November, 2020, 15:38

Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with the region which was a key part of predecessor Barack Obama's so-called "pivot" to Asia, in January 2017.

Mr Xi also used Thursday's Apec speech to deny that China would be pulling away from other economies - known as decoupling - and warn against protectionism.

He will deliver a speech to fellow leaders but the event is mostly closed to the media, according to officials in host country Malaysia.

"Our new development pattern is not a closed domestic single circulation, but an open and mutually promoting domestic and worldwide dual circulation", Xi said.

"We will further reduce tariffs and institutional costs., and expand imports of high-quality products and services from all countries", Xi said in a keynote speech delivered via video at the APEC CEO Dialogues, ahead of a leaders' virtual summit on the future of worldwide cooperation on Friday.

RCEP, or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, is the world's largest free trade deal signed this month by 15 economies, while the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific is potentially an even larger pact the 21-member APEC has been aspiring to.

The Trump administration has been criticised for a lower level of engagement in Asia. The US is not part of the RCEP. While the Obama administration coordinated the painstaking negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, Trump withdrew from the pact days after taking office in 2017.

Xi also called for stronger policy coordination among worldwide communities and said globalisation is "irreversible" and that China will not engage in "de-coupling".

Last year's APEC summit in Chile, where Trump had expected to sign a preliminary trade accord with China, was canceled as host city Santiago struggled with street protests. "Openness enables a country to move forward, while seclusion holds it back".

The prime minister also hoped that New Zealand will lend its support in efforts to reach an agreement on the Kuala Lumpur Declaration at the end of the Apec Summit tonight. On that occasion, leaders failed to agree on a joint communique for the first time since 1993, due to trade disputes between the US and China.

Given the economic prominence of the Asia-Pacific region, the policies adopted by its key nations will play an outsized role in the global fight against COVID-19.

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