APEC Trade Chiefs Kick Off 2-day Talks in Detroit

Jiji Press
Participants from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member countries attend a meeting in Detroit on Thursday.

DETROIT (Jiji Press) — A two-day meeting of trade ministers from member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum kicked off in Detroit on Thursday, with participants discussing the establishment of a free and fair economic order, among other topics, on the first day.

The gathering comes at a time when China’s opaque trade practices are shaking the free trade regime in the Asia-Pacific region.

Japanese trade minister Yasutoshi Nishimura stressed the need for the creation of a fair economic order including the correction of trade practices lacking transparency and for reform of the World Trade Organization, which has been failing to perform its functions properly.

Some participants voiced concerns that industrial subsidies favoring state-owned companies are hindering the formation of a level playing field.

The 21 APEC members include Japan, China, Russia and the United States. While the United States, this year’s APEC chair, is working to have the ongoing ministerial meeting produce a joint statement, its efforts may not bear fruit due to a division between major Western countries, including Japan and the United States, and the camp including China and Russia.

At their three-day summit through Sunday in Hiroshima, the Group of Seven major democracies — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — agreed to strengthen sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and establish supply chains with reduced dependence on China, which led to Moscow and Beijing reacting harshly.

APEC trade ministers failed to issue a joint statement at their previous meeting in May last year.

A ministerial meeting among member states of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) is also set to take place in Detroit Saturday.

The aim of IPEF is to make rules for the four areas of supply chains, trade, clean economy, and tax and anticorruption in order to keep in check China, which is boosting its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The focal point at the upcoming meeting is whether participants can reach a certain agreement on supply chains for key items such as semiconductors and mineral resources.