Australia, Asean summit ends with rebukes against trade protectionism - Business News

SYDNEY: The leaders of Australia and Singapore closed a regional summit on Sunday with a stand against against protectionism, arguing in favour of multi-nation trade deals as fears mount that U.S. plans for new tariffs could stoke a global trade war. "We strongly believe that a free, open and rules-based multilateral trading system is key to the region's growth and prosperity," Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a news conference to mark the end of a summit between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).President Donald Trump announced the tariffs on March 7 to protect domestic steel and aluminium producers on national security grounds. The United States is also looking at tariffs on up to $60 billion worth of Chinese imports, targeting technology and telecommunications sectors.Lee and Turnbull urged Asean to speedily agree to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a China-backed alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact that Trump withdrew the United States from last year. "We emphasise the importance of non-militarisation and the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint...and avoid actions that may complicate the situation," the communique said.Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, also have claims in the important trade waterway that is mostly claimed by China, which has been building artificial islands on reefs, some with ports and air strips. "This is a security and stability question in Southeast Asia which will affect all Asean countries if it goes wrong," Lee said.Asean also called for the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" and urged all U.N. members to strictly apply Security-Council sanctions on North Korea.Earlier in the summit, Asean and Australia announced new measures to co-operate on counter-terror intelligence.

Source:The Star

March 18, 2018 08:48 UTC

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