Trump promotes his “America First” vision to leaders at APEC summit

World Today

While Chinese President Xi Jinping defended globalization to APEC leaders, U.S. President Donald Trump repeated a theme often heard during his campaign for the presidency: America First.

CGTN’s Rian Maelzer reports.

As a successful business tycoon, Trump should have been in his element speaking at the APEC CEO summit on Friday afternoon. But APEC is a forum that seeks to promote multilateral trade deals.

Trump, meanwhile, chose to paint the U.S. as a victim of deceitful trading partners and lop-sided agreements.

“From this day forward, we will compete on a fair and equal basis. We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” Trump said. “I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”

The president, however, did seek to reassure delegates that the US is not turning its back on the region.

“Today I am here to offer a renewed partnership with America, to work together to strengthen the bonds of friendship and commerce between all of the nations of the Indo-Pacific, and together to promote our prosperity and security,” he said.

In January, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the region’s most ambitious trade deal. But signs are showing that the remaining 11 countries are close to an agreement.

“I am reasonably confident. I am quite sanguine we will get a deal, but of course it has to go through a process of ratification,” Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak said. “Some side matters and all that have to be worked out, but at least we have managed to salvage some kind of free trade agreement which is important for the future of APEC.”

Just over 50 years ago, Da Nang was the nexus of geopolitical conflict and rivalry in the Asia-Pacific, as the first US combat troops in South Vietnam landed on its beaches. Now, just meters from the same waterfront, Da Nang is hosting meetings aimed at bringing the region closer together.

The 21 APEC leaders will hold their main meeting on Saturday, looking to make progress on regional integration, with or without the support of the United States.