APEC economies reaffirm commitment to multilateral trading system

APEC economies reaffirm commitment to multilateral trading system

The failure of the US to hold a full-fledged meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit, which was held at the end of last week in Vietnam's Da Nang was not the only news of the forum. At the meeting, the APEC leaders reviewed the prospects for the global economy with Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, during the business breakfast, a discussion was held on establishing an Asia-Pacific free trade zone and a possible expansion of the APEC membership, and the final meeting focused on investments and new driving forces in international trade.

"We pay much attention to the digital economy in Russia in its different aspects and manifestations, and we consider problems from different angles. I think it is vitally important that Vietnam raised exactly this topic because we should not only discuss some of the issues together but also resolve them together. It is impossible to do it alone. There is much talk about small and medium-sized businesses, and micro business, but we have to realise how it can be integrated in the overall system, the general operational chain of the modern economy, the information economy. Russia had specific proposals in this respect, and I voiced them... We also spoke about the future of APEC. Mutual trade grew many-fold during the organisation’s lifetime. This basically shows the efficiency of the organisation. We discussed the need to further liberalise markets and build up relations within a common and open market. Although some think that it is too early to talk about it because of the different levels of the member states’ economies," Vladimir Putin said after the summit.

"All the events of the forum were quite successful. Russia is fully satisfied with the final documents of the ministerial meeting and the declaration of the leaders. All that we wanted to see in the documents, we see there. And vice versa, we managed to either reformat, paraphrase or completely withdraw what we and many other economies did not want to see in the final documents," Russian Foreign Ministry's Ambassador-at-Large, Russia's APEC Senior Official Valery Sorokin said, summing up the results of the forum.

Speaking about the specifics of the summit, he recognized that it is largely determined by the US approach to the APEC forum and to the prospects for cooperation within the framework of this regional association due to the known nuances in the foreign policy of the current administration, including in foreign economic policy. "The position or negotiating base with which the US delegation entered the process of agreeing on the draft outcome documents failed," Sorokin said. "The position of the US was to weaken or lower the assessment of the importance of the multilateral trading system, and it is a key concept for APEC. We and all other APEC economies have firmly committed themselves to the multilateral trading system represented by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US delegation proposed to lower the role of the multilateral trading system and not to mention the WTO at all. Of course, this position did not work."

According to Sorokin, APEC economies affirmed their commitment to a multilateral trading system based on non-discriminatory rules: "The commitment to comply with the WTO rules and regulations has been confirmed. We were interested in the prospect of the Trans-Pacific partnership. An event was to take place that would formally consolidate the possibility of creating a trans-Pacific partnership comprising 11 economies that have already signed this agreement. But it did not happen in Da Nang. Apparently, the process of determining the prospects of TPP-11 will continue in some other formats and other places."

APEC 2018 will be hosted by Papua New Guinea.