Japan, US and 3 others quit APEC trade meeting in protest against Russia

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Representatives of five economies, including Japan and the United States, left a meeting of Asia-Pacific trade ministers on Saturday, the day of the opening of a two-day conference in Bangkok, to protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Japanese officials said. .

The meeting of 21 economies forming the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is underway with the promotion of trade and investment in the post-COVID-19 era, particularly pathways towards a free trade area in the region, top of the agenda.

Ministers from Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand left the room as Maksim Reshetnikov, Russia’s Economic Development Minister, began delivering his remarks during a morning session, according to officials.

Photo shows a trade ministers meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok, Thailand, May 21, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Thai government) (Kyodo)

It was the first meeting of APEC trade ministers held in person in three years as restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic eased.

“We hope that the outcomes of this year’s APEC Trade Ministers’ Meeting will play an important role in helping to determine the policy direction for recovery and boosting regional economic growth in various areas post-COVID- 19,” Thailand’s trade minister said. said Jurin Laksanawisit in his opening remarks.

The Thai government is the host and chair of this year’s APEC meetings.

On the sidelines of the APEC trade meeting, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda is expected to hold bilateral talks with ministers, including Thai ones, on a range of issues including the US-led Indo-Pacific economic framework.

The framework, called IPEF, aims to encourage openness while improving prosperity and building the region’s resilience, according to the US government.

Its launch is expected to be officially announced during US President Joe Biden’s trip to Japan, where he will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday.

“We welcome IPEF, as it will be a framework for strengthening American involvement in the Indo-Pacific region,” Hagiuda told reporters in Tokyo before departing for the Thai capital.

Other issues on the agenda include food insecurity, high energy prices and the recovery of tourism.

Founded in 1989, APEC operates on the basis of non-binding and consensual cooperation to discuss free trade and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

APEC members represent about 60% of the world’s gross domestic product and about 50% of world trade.

This year’s APEC Leaders’ Meeting is scheduled to be held face-to-face in November in Bangkok.

APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru , the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.


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