Morrison slams trade war, says TPP door still open


CANBERRA • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (picture) strongly criticised a burgeoning trade war between the US and China, while saying other countries are welcome to join a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.

Speaking at the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Papua New Guinea, Morrison said it is important for governments to make the case that free trade is the best way to lift people out of poverty and provide stability in the region. He also backed the World Trade Organisation, saying it is important to strengthen global trading rules.

“Tit-for-tat protectionism and threats of trade wars are in no one’s interests economically, and undermine the authority of the global and regional trading rules that benefit us all,” Morrison told the APEC Summit on Saturday.

“I know there are legitimate questions around trade arrangements. But the solution to perceived unfair trade practices is more likely to be found around the negotiating table than it is in re-building a tariff wall.”

The comments appeared to be some of Morrison’s strongest veiled criticism yet of US President Donald Trump’s trade policies since taking office a few months ago.

While Australia is one of the US’ most reliable security allies in the Asia Pacific, its reliance on trade for economic growth has put it odds with Trump’s use of tariffs against friends and foes alike.