Donald Trump and Xi Jinping participate in the virtual APEC Leaders Summit

The current U.S. president took part in the APEC summit for the first time since 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday attended a virtual summit of leaders in the Asia-Pacific region. The main topics for discussion were the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic recovery.

The United States and China are members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), an organization of 21 countries. The APEC Leaders Summit was initiated by Malaysia. The virtual meeting took place just two weeks after the presidential election, which, according to preliminary results, was won by Joe Biden.

The meeting called for more open and multilateral trade to support economic recovery and warned colleagues against trade protectionism. At the same time, Xi Jinping said that one of the reasons for the growing risks to the global economy was the “one-sided approach” to trade relations.

During the previous APEC summit in 2018, the bloc’s member countries were unable to agree on a joint communiqué for the first time in its history because of the disagreement between Washington and Beijing over trade and investment issues.

Trump imposed billions of dollars in import duties on Chinese products, leading to a trade war between the two world’s largest economies.

Today’s summit was also attended by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Ahead of Friday’s meeting, several APEC leaders warned colleagues against a policy of protectionism, as it prevents the world economy from coping with the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic. New Zealand’s prime minister, in particular, said so.

Other APEC leaders also expressed hope that Joe Biden’s new administration will become more involved in and support multilateral trade.

Trump had previously removed the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. The United States also withdrew from the major international free trade bloc, the Comprehensive Regional Partnership Agreement. The pact was signed last week by 15 countries with strong Chinese support.

The Trump administration is often criticized for its low activity in Asia. Trump only once visited the APEC summit in 2017. Last year’s summit, which was to be held in Chile, was canceled due to riots in the country.

Trump also missed two virtual meetings of the heads of Asian states that took place last week: the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the summit of leaders of East Asia.

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