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Trump talks tough on trade at APEC Summit in Vietnam 

Da Nang (Vietnam), Nov 10 (IANS) US President Donald Trump revived his tough talk on trade on Friday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) here, warning he will not allow “the US to be taken advantage of any more.”

Speaking at a gathering of business leaders, Trump demanded trade “on a fair and equal basis” and returned to his campaign rhetoric, promising to place America first in global deals and agreements.

“We are not going to let the US be taken advantage of any more,” Trump said, speaking shortly after arriving in Vietnam, his fourth stop on a five-country tour through Asia. 

“I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first,” the Washington Post reported.

APEC brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region — the equivalent of about 60 per cent of the world’s GDP.

The US President’s more fiery and protectionist tone offered a stark departure from just a day earlier, when in Beijing, Trump seemed reluctant to press his case as sharply with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Post said.

There, Trump lavished praise on Xi and blamed his predecessors, not China, for the trade imbalance. 

He also laid out Washington’s new approach to trade, telling the audience at the summit on Friday that he would no longer pursue multi-national trade agreements “that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible.

“I will make bilateral trade agreements with any Indo-Pacific nation that wants to be our partner and that will abide by the principles of fair and reciprocal trade,” Trump said without directly mentioning Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a major trade deal with 12 APEC member countries.

After taking office, Trump pulled the US out of the TPP, arguing it would hurt US economic interests.

In a tacit knock on Chinese leaders, the US leader said Washington would “no longer tolerate the audacious theft of intellectual property”, CNN reported.

“We will confront the destructive practices of forcing businesses to surrender their technology to the state, and forcing them into joint ventures in exchange for market access,” he said.

Businesses in the US have long complained about China failing to honour intellectual property rights. 

Xi, speaking at the event shortly after Trump, did not respond to his speech but said economic globalization had become an “irreversible historical trend”.

“Against the backdrop of evolving global developments, economic globalization also faces new adjustments both in form and substance,” Xi said. 

“In pursuing economic globalization, we should make it more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all.”

Trump also continued the tough talk on North Korea. He said the region “must not be held hostage to a dictator’s twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail”.

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

After Vietnam, Trump will travel to the Philippines for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.

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