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APEC Leaders Recognize 'Growing Tensions,' Fail To Agree On Summit Communique

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said that APEC leaders had "fruitful discussions and exchanged frank views" at the summit.

Asia-Pacific leaders meeting in Papua New Guinea this weekend have been unable to agree on the final communique of a summit overshadowed by trade disputes between the United States and China.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the standoff on November 18, saying the 21 countries in APEC could not agree on the joint communique amid differences over trade policies.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said at the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby on November 18 that APEC leaders had "fruitful discussions and exchanged frank views" while recognizing "growing tensions" between trading countries around the world.

O'Neill told reporters that "the entire world is worried" about tensions between China and the United States over trade.

The Associated Press reports that a rejected U.S. draft version of a summit communique included language criticizing China for "unfair" trade policies.

The deadlock at the summit came a day after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traded accusations with Chinese President Xi Jinping over tit-for tat tariffs imposed by their countries.

Pence said Washington was prepared to "more than double" U.S. tariffs already imposed on goods from China and vowed that Washington "will not change course until China changes its way."

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed tariffs on Chinese goods worth billions of dollars, saying its tariffs are in response to China’s "unfair" trade policies.

China has retaliated by imposing tariffs of its own on U.S. goods and by accusing Trump of launching a trade war.

Xi told the summit on November 17: "History has shown that confrontation -- whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war, or a trade war – will produce no winners."

Pence responded later on November 17 by accusing Beijing of intellectual property theft, providing huge subsidies for state businesses, and imposing "tremendous" barriers to foreign companies trying to enter the Chinese market.

Pence also criticized China's global infrastructure drive, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, saying many of the projects are of low quality and will burden developing countries with loans they can't afford.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying on November 18 rejected Pence's criticism, saying "no developing country will fall into debt difficulties because of cooperation with China."

Pence told reporters that he'd had two "candid" conversations during the summit with Xi, who was expected to meet Trump at a Group of 20 summit at the end of November in Buenos Aires.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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