APEC Leaders Call for Open Trade, Strengthening WTO
At their 25th annual meeting, leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum member countries (which include the U.S.) emphasized the importance of “non-discriminatory, reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade and investment frameworks” and pledged to “work together to make trade more inclusive, support improved market access opportunities, and address unfair trade practices.” While this language in the leaders’ concluding declaration reflects points of importance to the Trump administration, the statement also represents a softer tone on other trade policy topics than the White House has frequently taken this year.
Specific commitments set forth in the declaration include the following.
- accelerating efforts to address World Trade Organization-inconsistent barriers to trade and investment
- cooperating to realize the potential of the Internet and digital economy, including through appropriate regulatory and policy frameworks
- considering actions to facilitate the development of e-commerce and digital trade
- taking further actions to increase APEC's competitiveness in the services sector by 2025 and intensifying efforts to address barriers that inhibit businesses from competing or trading in services markets
- encouraging members to make further progress on work related to the eventual realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, such as capacity building initiatives and information sharing mechanisms
- working together to improve the functioning of the WTO, including its negotiating, monitoring, and dispute settlement functions, and to ensure the effective and timely enforcement of WTO rules
- ensuring that bilateral, regional, and plurilateral agreements complement multilateral trade agreements
- fighting protectionism, including all unfair trade practices, and recognizing the role of legitimate trade defense instruments
- encouraging further actions to enable better participation, greater value added, and upward mobility of developing economies and small and medium-sized enterprises in global value chains