Since it was founded in 1989, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC conference has been principally about trade.
APEC members include 17 Western Pacific members and Canada, Mexico, Chile and the United States on the eastern Pacific Rim.
On a tour of four South American nations last month, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, said the conference would be about keeping trade open.
“In face of the trend of reverse globalization and the rise of trade protectionism, this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting should send clear and firm signals to the international community that we should work together to safeguard the global trading system and oppose any form of protectionism. China expects that new consensuses could be reached and new actions could be made on the construction process of the FTAAP at this year’s Lima conference,” he said.
All 12 signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal also belong to APEC, though the reverse isn’t true. Nine APEC members have not signed TPP—an agreement that excludes China. Media reports say TPP leaders will meet on the APEC conference sidelines to review the future of TPP after the U.S. elected Donald Trump who has vowed to scrap it.
China has proposed an alternative regional trade deal called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP. Its 16-nation trade bloc will include all 10 ASEAN nations, plus the six states that have existing free trade agreements with ASEAN—China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. RCEP excludes nations in North and South America.