President Xi Jinping speaking on a virtual platform at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) said China will “actively consider” signing up for a regional free-trade pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
“The grouping must continue to promote regional economic integration and establish an Asia-Pacific free trade zone at an early date,” Xi said even as joint communique called for free and predictable trade to help the global economy hit by the pandemic.
The virtual summit was hosted by Malaysia amid trade tensions between the US and China even as the pandemic continues to ravage economies worldwide. The meeting involves leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies which accounts for nearly 60 per cent of global GDP.
Donald Trump who has been put a legal challenge on the US election results refused to use the official backdrop and delivered a speech to the leaders during the two-hour event which was not open to the media.
President Xi on his part said: “It is important that the Asia-Pacific should remain the bellwether in safeguarding peace and stability, upholding multilateralism, and fostering an open world economy, adding,”Free and open trade and investment cannot be achieved overnight.”
China and 14 Asia-Pacific countries had earlier signed free trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will be the world’s biggest trade pact.
“We need to trade and invest our way out of the current economic downturn,” Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who is hosting the event said.
“We must come together and work constructively towards navigating the region along a path of robust, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery and growth,” PM Yassin added.