Obama defends free trade at Asia Pacific summit rattled by Trump


Lima—US President Barack Obama on Sunday defended free trade as fellow Asia-Pacific leaders vowed to fight protectionism after Donald Trump’s shock election victory sparked fears for the future of global commerce. The surprise win by Trump, who vowed to tear up trade deals that he claimed sent American jobs abroad, has raised concerns that years of rolling back trade barriers could be reversed.
His victory overshadowed a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) group held in Peru this week, where leaders found themselves under fierce pressure to defend trade against a rising tide of anti-globalisation sentiment in Europe and America. There was particular concern about the future of a major US-backed deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Trump has vowed to kill off — and that China was positioning itself to forge ahead with its own trade deals and fill a vacuum left by any American withdrawal.
But after the APEC summit closed on Sunday, Obama insisted that the 12-nation trans-Pacific deal, a key part of his “pivot” to Asia, was far from dead and those involved still wanted to move forward with the United States.—Agencies