Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

As US Retreats, China Touts Its Trade Deal Wares to Asia

As US Retreats, China Touts Its Trade Deal Wares to Asia

SINGAPORE - China is touting itself as the new defender of global commerce as it works with Asia-Pacific leaders to hammer out the world’s largest trade deal -- with the United States relegated to the sidelines.
World leaders gathered in Singapore this week for a summit where a massive Beijing-backed agreement covering half the world’s population has dominated discussions.
Diplomats have been trying to nail down details as Beijing entices its neighbours to join a pact seen as an antidote to President Donald Trump’s “America First” protectionist trade policy.
The US has imposed tariffs on roughly half of what it imports from China, prompting Beijing to retaliate with its own levies.
China, Japan, India and other Asia-Pacific countries are expected to announce progress on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) later Wednesday.
Beijing had hoped to have the meat of the deal done by the end of this year, but the timetable has now slipped to 2019. However, this has not stopped Chinese leaders from basking in the progress already made.
During a meeting with Southeast Asia leaders, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said he was hopeful talks would “break through the ceiling” and take regional trade “to new heights”.
Trump is not at the summit, nor a subsequent gathering of world leaders in Papua New Guinea at the end of the week, having sent Vice President Mike Pence instead.
National Security Advisor John Bolton, however, told reporters in Singapore that the president’s no-show should not be seen as a lack of commitment towards the region.
He blamed a “schedule crunch” after a particularly frenetic few weeks that included the midterm elections, attending the World War I armistice commemorations in France and preparing for the G20 in Argentina later this month. (AFP)