Trump, Xi attend APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting


US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping participated in the virtual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) today, marking the former’s first international appearance since he lost the US presidential election two weeks ago.

Trump was earlier scheduled to deliver a keynote address on “The Future of Trade” at the APEC CEO Dialogues Malaysia 2020, though a no-show by the Republican president was expected as he remains preoccupied in a battle to challenge his defeat. 

Xi, however, delivered his address at the conference on Thursday, capitalising on the gap to increase Chinese influence across the Asia-Pacific region.

The pair joins other leaders in the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) hosted virtually by Malaysia.

Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in his opening remarks, said the group assumes a central role in spearheading a post-pandemic economic recovery. APEC economies constitute about 60% of global GDP and 40% of the world’s population.

“We need to trade and invest our way out of the current economic downturn. We must come together and work constructively towards navigating the region along a path of robust, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery and growth,” Muhyiddin said.

Malaysia’s trade with APEC economies had increased by more than seven-fold in the past decade, he added. In 2019, APEC nations collectively contributed to 78% of Malaysia’s total trade and were the largest source of FDI into Malaysia at 91%.

Muhyiddin said APEC economies must recognise that free and open trade and investment have resulted in greater prosperity within the Asia Pacific region. However, he noted that benefits accruing from trade and investment have not permeated across societies.

“In Malaysia’s view, this can be achieved through Shared Prosperity. Shared Prosperity is about mainstreaming economic development and centre-staging prosperity, to enable all members of our society to participate effectively in economic activities, and benefit from the resulting growth,” he said.

The APEC summit is expected to see the launch of the region’s Post-2020 Vision, a key policy document that is set to replace the Bogor Goals, which reach maturity at year-end.