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APEC leaders call for free and open trade to boost economic recovery

Kitco News

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Asia Pacific leaders on Friday put aside differences over trade to endorse their first joint communique in three years, calling for free and predictable trade to help support a global economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Leaders of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), who included U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping, also said they would not resort to protectionist trade policies.

The joint statement, issued after a virtual summit hosted by Malaysia, comes amid ongoing trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China.

“The impact of (the U.S.-China) trade war has been eclipsed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told reporters after the leaders’ meeting.

“APEC has also pledged to refrain from backtracking and resorting to protectionist measures to keep markets and borders open,” he said.

In the joint communique, the leaders said they recognised “the importance of a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment” to drive growth during the crisis.

APEC countries failed to come to an agreement in 2018, after talks were stymied by disagreements over trade and investment between the United States and China, and last year’s gathering in Chile was cancelled due to violent street protests.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Joseph Sipalan; additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Ju-min Park in Tokyo; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Sam Holmes and Gareth Jones

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