A summit of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ended on Sunday without a communique, in the backdrop of the wide decisions between the world’s biggest economies, the US and China. The summit which took place in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea found it difficult to resolve the differences about the role of the World Trade Organization, (WTO) which controls international trade. Instead of a communique, a statement will be issued by the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neil. He told reporters that the whole world is worried about the trade conflicts between the US and China after he made it clear that there will be no communique by the member-nations.
The reporters of The Associated Press, who saw the draft versions of the communique said that the US wanted to describe what it perceived to be the unfair trade practices of China in strong language. The Chinese responded by voicing their protest against what they called the protectionism and unilateralism the US adopts in matters of trade. Justin Trudeau, the President of Canada, commented that there were problems among many nations in the world, including between the US and China. He added that nobody would be surprised that there are conflicting narratives on certain key issues discussed, and those issues prevented the summit from coming up with a consensus.
The rivalry that is brewing between China and the West for the influence wielded in the South Pacific nations was another factor that came out in the summit. The Western nations are disturbed that China, a new player in the scene, makes offers of loans to the South Pacific nations with terms that are too easy to comply with. This embitters the West, since they are the established players here, and make them resent the presence of the newcomer. Earlier, on Saturday, the US Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping had made pointed references at each other. Pence attacked China’s unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft whereas Xi retorted with the idea that the present is not the time for unilateralism and protectionism. What is interesting is Xi and Trump are to meet in Buenos Aires in a few days.