APEC Leaders Disagree Over Trade And Security in The Asia-Pacific
The Asia-Pacific Cooperation Summit has ended without a collective statement from leaders for the first time in history, causing additional issues for the trade war between the United States and China.
Despite the anticlimactic end to summit season in Asia, the week of diplomatic discussions were not in vain. The 21 member economies of the Pacific Rim managed to concede on various issues, including Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States agreeing to fund an initiative under a newly announced infrastructure deal that will bring electricity to 70% of people in Papua New Guinea by 2030.
The United States has also revealed it intends to join Australia and Papua New Guinea in working to update the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island while Australia announced a collection of additional scholarships for Pacific students to study in Australian schools.
"[The issues] we are dealing with are difficult," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated in regards to the concluding communique failure, according to the Guardian. "But what was able to be achieved here were many areas of agreement, particularly in areas of connectedness to the digital economy."
APEC fails to reach consensus as deep divisions between U.S. and China over trade and investment stymie cooperation https://t.co/P8A5vdliou by @PhilipWen11@barrett_ink@TSWestbrookpic.twitter.com/pxbYAmUWIv— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) November 19, 2018
Despite advancements across infrastructure and capacity building, various government officials and international aid organisations have claimed nations have failed to take full advantage of the APEC and ASEAN summits as an opportunity to advance reforms that could make a real difference in areas like climate change and poverty alleviation.
Disappointed to read that #APEC summit ended with no communique agreed; 1st time that this has happened in 25 years of these leaders’ meetings. This organisation was founded to promote trans-Pacific co-operation: need to return to that ethos. @APEC https://t.co/BV2DeZB5h3— Helen Clark (@HelenClarkNZ) November 19, 2018
Asia-Pacific nations currently face challenges like significant percentages of malnourished children and preventable disease returns. For Professor Stephen Howes, an economist at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia’s move to infrastructure investment instead of saving individual lives through direct services has been detrimental — particularly for the region’s health crisis.
"That move out of service delivery was a mistake," Howes told the New York Times.
Similarly, a Pacific government official told SBS News that he has little interest in the current geopolitical contest between Australia, China, and the United States.
"We want to fight climate change, not China, not Australia" he stated. "We want help to live, not to take sides."
There is hope that nations may be able to hash out their differences and commit to climate change and sustainable development initiatives for the sake of the most marginalised Pacific people during the G20 Summit in Argentina before the month’s end.