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Asia-Pacific trade summit closes amid anti-trade climate

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by November 20, 2016 General

LIMA, Peru – Leaders of 21 Asia-Pacific nations ended their annual summit Sunday with a call to resist protectionism amid signs of increased free-trade skepticism, highlighted by the victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum closed with a joint pledge to work toward a sweeping new free trade agreement that would include all 21 members as a path “sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth,” despite the political climate.

“We reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight against all forms of protectionism,” the leaders of the APEC nations said in a joint statement.

APEC noted the “rising skepticism over trade” amid an uneven recovery since the financial crisis and said that the “the benefits of trade and open markets need to be communicated to the wider public more effectively, emphasizing how trade promotes innovation, employment and higher living standards.”

This was the last international summit for U.S. President Barack Obama and he had been expected to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal. But he is no longer expected to seek ratification by Congress before he leaves office because of the election victory by Trump, who had blasted the agreement as a “disaster” for jobs.

Leaders of other nations said at the APEC meeting that they might seek to modify the TPP deal to make it more appealing to the incoming president or seek to implement it without the U.S. But the statement issued at the close of the summit said the organization would also work toward adoption of a broader 21-nation pact favoured by the Chinese government known as the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.

The APEC statement also said the members would adhere to the carbon reduction goals set in Paris last year to address climate change, which they called a threat to food security and security.

APEC noted the “rising skepticism over trade” amid an uneven recovery since the financial crisis and said that the “the benefits of trade and open markets need to be communicated to the wider public more effectively, emphasizing how trade promotes innovation, employment and higher living standards.”

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