UNITED States President Donald Trump on Friday, November 20, attended a virtual summit of Asia Pacific leaders to discuss how to support the global economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering, hosted by Malaysia this year, was attended by leaders of 21 Pacific Rim economies who vowed to use “all available policy tools” to fight the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on the way we view trade and economic priorities within Apec,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in his opening remarks.
“We need to trade and invest our way out of the current economic downturn. We must come together and work constructively towards navigating the region along a path of robust, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery and growth,” he added.
The APEC leaders pledged to “facilitate the movement of essential goods and services, as well as the essential movement of people in a safe manner,” as well as support the ongoing efforts to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO).
They also adopted the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, which replaced the 1994 Bogor Goals.
The bloc’s new long-term blueprint envisions “an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040, for the prosperity of all our people and future generations.”
The summit was held after 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including China and Japan signed the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which will facilitate the flow of goods and services and lower barriers to investment.
“Amidst a risk of inward-looking temptations in the face of the slump of the global economy, making rules for a free and fair global economy is critically important,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Sunday.
“While continuing to promote WTO reform, Japan will aspire for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific,” he added.
Leaders who attended the APEC summit include Suga, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Russian President Vladamir Putin, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trump’s attendance marked the first time he appeared on the global stage after losing the U.S. presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden earlier this November.
He was the only leader who refused to use the official APEC backdrop which featured the enormous, green-domed Malaysian prime minister’s office.
Trump also delivered a speech to fellow leaders but it was not made available to the media.