US-China Dispute Casts Shadow Over Asia-Pacific Free-Trade Drive

The U.S. and China’s on-again, off-again trade dispute is casting a shadow over Asia-Pacific nations’ efforts to further open up global trade, a senior Australian government official said.

Delegates at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Port Moresby this weekend pledged to keep pursuing a free and fair international trading regime, in the face of rising protectionist sentiment. The Papua New Guinea capital in November will also host an Apec summit that will include Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, amid ongoing risks the U.S. and China could unleash tit-for-tat tariffs.

“The two giants in the room are having issues,” Australia’s Assistant Trade Minister Mark Coulton said on the conference sidelines Saturday. Delegates are “certainly watching closely and are concerned because they don’t want to be caught up in the by-wash.”

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