Apec trade ministers for the first time failed to issue a statement on the outcome of their meeting here following the United States’ refusal to accept the language used such as free trade and protectionism.
The ministers from the 21 economies who met on Wednesday could not reach an agreement on the statement as Washington was unhappy with the language which mentioned globalisation and multilateral trading system.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed who held a late night press conference described the failure as unprecedented in Apec, saying the ministers would meet again this morning (Nov 9).
“The reason why the ministers statement has yet to be issued is because of differing views on multilateral trading system and the word protectionism in the statement that the US was unhappy.
“We understand why the US is doing this. They have big issues with China, Japan and Malaysia on the balance of trade where US felt that the big trade surplus is unfair trade.
“The US feels China and Japan have big surplus, blaming it on unfair world trade system currently,” he added.
Mustapa lamented Apec economies used to speak in one voice, oppose to protectionism and support multilateral trading system but the situation has changed now.
“It doesn’t feel like we are in a tense atmosphere, but the reality is it is difficult for us to jointly agree on the text. This is quite unprecedented in Apec.”
He also said even officials had made a few attempts and come out with a compromise on the wordings and language.
“As I speak we are still struggling on the words,” he added.