Monday, November 20, 2017

Asia-Pacific forum sticks to free-trade gospel despite Trump

RECOMMENDED READING


DANANG, Vietnam (AP) — An annual Pacific Rim summit is sticking with its tradition of promoting free trade and closer regional ties, shrugging off President Donald Trump's "America First" approach.

The leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum said Saturday that they had recommitted to fighting protectionism and "all unfair trade practices." They also expressed support for multi-country institutions and regional as well as country-to-country trade agreements.

Trade ministers from 11 of the Pacific Rim countries announced an agreement on pushing ahead with a free-trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, whose destiny had been cast into doubt after Trump pulled the U.S. out.

Efforts to get an agreement on how to proceed without the U.S. stumbled at the last moment, with leaders unable to formally endorse the proposal. But trade ministers announced a preliminary deal, with some details to be worked out later.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that environmental protection, labor rights, gender issues and the auto industry were areas needing work, though he did not go into specifics.

"We got a lot of work done, but there is still more work to do," Trudeau said.

The revisions required for the 11 remaining TPP countries to continue talks required a difficult balance between high standards and pragmatism, said Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

"The substance is something all the TPP countries can agree on," said Motegi. "This will send a very strong message to the U.S. and the other countries in the region."

Trudeau said his unexpected absence from a TPP leaders' meeting on Friday, which caused consternation among his fellow leaders and confusion about Canada's stance, stemmed from an extra-long meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"We were not ready to close the TPP 11 yesterday," he said.

The ministers dropped some key provisions the Americans had required on protection of intellectual property, among others. They also changed the trade accord's name to the unwieldy Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.

Those trade talks took place on the sidelines of APEC summitry: ceremonial arrivals in bright tailored shirts to a gala banquet, a closed-door retreat and scores of bilateral meetings between the 21 leaders attending the event in this coastal resort city.

Increasingly, APEC summits have become more of an opportunity for such side talks, and for host nations to showcase their growing affluence.

Trump's dramatically different stances from his predecessor, Barack Obama — such as his "America First" trade strategy and his skepticism over climate change — were apparent in Danang. But his hosts and the other leaders took it in stride.

As an institution, apart from its pageantry and its tradition of drawing leaders together for face-to-face meetings, APEC mainly serves as a laboratory for trying out policies and encouraging "best practices," said Alan Bollard, executive director for APEC's secretariat. Unlike the TPP trade pact, whose decisions will eventually be enforced, APEC's statements are nonbinding.

"We're in an easier place to try things out, to test policy sensitivities even if we don't get everybody around the table," Bollard said.

The declaration issued Saturday contain calls for continued work to improve food security, to help ensure the benefits of economic growth are more evenly shared and to make member countries more business-friendly, among a slew of development-related plans. It also contained measures addressing climate change.

As a developing country with a fast-growing export sector, this year's host country, Vietnam, has a strong interest in open trade and access for its exports to consumers in the West given the role foreign investment and trade have played in helping its economy to grow at a more than 6 percent pace. Danang, Vietnam's third-largest city, is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and smaller hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.

APEC's members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.

The countries participating in the newly renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Comments
A Border Patrol agent is dead in Texas, but the circumstances remain murky

A Border Patrol agent is dead in Texas, but the circumstances remain murky

VAN HORN, Texas — Along the shoulder of Interstate 10, where drug runners sometimes hide in drainage culverts, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez came to a stop late Saturday and got out of his vehicle.Martinez scrambled down an embankment thr...
Updated: 12 minutes ago

St. Petersburg council passes living wage ordinance

ST. PETERSBURG — An ordinance requiring certain city contractors to pay workers a minimum of $12 an hour was approved by City Council members Thursday with some amendments. The living wage ordinance applies to businesses with major city contracts pro...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bill Clinton visits Puerto Rico, distributes relief supplies

Bill Clinton visits Puerto Rico, distributes relief supplies

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is visiting Puerto Rico and meeting with those left homeless after Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory as a Category 4 storm
Updated: 1 hour ago
Flames ride hot Gaudreau, beat Capitals

Flames ride hot Gaudreau, beat Capitals

WASHINGTON — Johnny Gaudreau would rather talk about anything other than his offensive production. He’s just making it impossible to avoid. Gaudreau had a goal and an assist to extend his career-best point streak to 10 games and lead the Flames to a ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cavs roll over Pistons, close in on Central lead

Cavs roll over Pistons, close in on Central lead

DETROIT — An emphatic win over a first-place opponent had LeBron James and the Cavaliers talking confidently again. "We haven’t had a win like that in a very long time," James said. "That’s what happens when we don’t let up." James scored 16 of his 1...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

Before he crashed, Roy Halladay flew within 75 feet of houses and skimmed the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a report published Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.The report, which did not address the cause of the crash, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ah, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, Florida has once again achieved national prominence. We’re No. 1 — with a body bag! Can’t you feel the pride swelling?A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Asian shares advance as Wall Street regains ground

Asian shares advance as Wall Street regains ground

Shares higher in Asia after Wall Street regains lost ground
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBoxingWelterweights: Alexander vs. Castillo7:30 p.m.FS1College basketballMaui Invitational semifinal1:30 p.m.ESPNLegends Classic third-place game3:30 p.m.ESPNUMaui Invitational consolation game4 p.m.ESPN2Legends Classic final6 p.m.ESPN2George Ma...
Updated: 1 hour ago