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Senin, 21 November 2016 11:21

APEC Declaration Pledges to Continue Working Toward Free Trade

2016 APEC Meeting in Lima, Peru (dpa)

LIMA - The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit closed Sunday with a declaration that pledges to continue working toward a free trade agreement.

The declaration reaffirmed the commitment of the 21 APEC countries to keep markets open and to fight against all forms of protectionism.

"We recognize that there has been a slow and uneven recovery from the economic and financial crisis of 2008," the declaration says.

This has resulted in lower global economic growth and other economic challenges, including "significantly slower expansion of international trade in recent years."

But APEC leaders said they "remain committed to using all policy tools - monetary, fiscal and structural - individually and collectively, to strengthen global demand and address supply constraints."

The leaders also reaffirmed their pledge against protectionism and to roll back protectionist and trade-distorting measures.

The summit has been overshadowed by concerns over US president-elect Donald Trump's statements in favour of protectionism. Several APEC heads of state have warned against trade barriers.

US President Barack Obama told reporters at a news conference that one of the greatest challenges facing the leaders is to ensure benefits of the global economy are shared by all people.

The goal is not to pull back from trade, given the global economy and the world's established supply chains, but to "do trade right" with strong environmental and labour standards.

Obama used the opportunity to encourage the APEC leaders to give Trump a chance. He said he couldn't guarantee that Trump won't pursue some of the positions he took during the campaign, but added: "Reality will force him to adjust how he approaches some of these issues."

Once in office, history has shown that presidents "end up confronting realities you didn't anticipate."

Earlier Sunday, Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to continue efforts towards resolving the Syrian conflict until Obama leaves office in January.

Obama and Putin also discussed ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria during a brief meeting on the sidelines of the summit in Lima, Peru.

"It was stressed that the remaining two months should be used to continue the search for the ways of a settlement in Syria. In this context, they agreed that [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov and [US Secretary of State John] Kerry will continue their contacts," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to state news agency Tass.

Obama raised the situation in Ukraine, underscoring the US and its partners' commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty. He also urged Putin to uphold Russia's commitments under the Minsk agreements aimed at ending the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the country's east.

The four-minute meeting between Obama and Putin took place informally after the two leaders greeted each other at the beginning of Sunday's session.

Putin held bilateral meetings with the leaders of China, Japan and the Philippines during the APEC summit, but no bilateral meeting with Obama was scheduled.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement brokered by the US, was a main topic during the summit.

Despite Obama's efforts, the deal now appears dead, with no ratification effort expected in the US Congress before the end of the year, and Trump taking office January 20.

The APEC countries represent 57 per cent of global economic output. (dpa) (hlz/hlz)