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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Asia-Pacific leaders agree to address 'unfair trade practices'

A joint statement issued by 21 countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation showed the influence of US president Donald Trump, who has vowed to rewrite trade pacts he sees as unfavourable to the United States

It was at the Apec summit that US president Donald Trump said to someone that Ms Ardern had "caused a lot of upset in her country". She replied: "no one marched when I was elected". 
Pictured: Apec leaders pose for a photo at the end of the summit in Danang, Vietnam, on November 11, 2017. Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press via AP
It was at the Apec summit that US president Donald Trump said to someone that Ms Ardern had "caused a lot of upset in her country". She replied: "no one marched when I was elected". Pictured: Apec leaders pose for a photo at the end of the summit in Danang, Vietnam, on November 11, 2017. Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press via AP

Asia-Pacific leaders on Saturday agreed to address "unfair trade practices" and urgently called for the removal of "market distorting subsidies", in contrast to communiques they have issued in the past.

A joint statement issued by 21 countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) following their meeting in Vietnam showed the influence of US president Donald Trump, who has vowed to rewrite trade pacts he sees as unfavourable to the United States.

"We will work together to make trade more inclusive, support improved market access opportunities, and address unfair trade practices," the statement said.

"We urgently call for the removal of market-distorting subsidies and other types of support by governments and related entities."

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In the statement, the leaders also agreed on the need to improve the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) "negotiating, monitoring and dispute settlement functions". The joint statement from last year's Apec meeting was not critical of the WTO. Last year's statement also made no mention of bilateral trade.

In this year's statement, however, leaders noted the "importance of bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements".

The change in the trade language shows the influence of Mr Trump's "America First" policy. Mr Trump has said he prefers to do bilateral trade deals, and in one of his first acts as president pulled the United States out of the ambitious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.

Ahead of his trip to Asia, Mr Trump last week called the US trade deficit with China "embarrassing" and "horrible".

A separate joint statement was issued by Apec ministers earlier on Saturday, three days later than planned because of wrangling over traditional language that the US wanted to change.