China has challenged some of the goals set by the United States for this year's summit of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders, which takes place later this week in Hawaii. Chinese officials expressed reservations about a proposed deal to lower tariffs on green technologies, and warned that attempts to expand the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade arrangement should not overshadow existing wider multilateral trade mechanisms.
Meanwhile, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has confirmed she will miss the APEC summit due to the worsening flood crisis in her country.
The APEC summit is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, 12-13 November, in Honolulu under the theme of "Toward a Seamless Regional Economy."
Green Growth Deal
As the host of APEC for 2011, the US has set priorities of green growth, regulatory cooperation, energy and innovation for the forum. But Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hailong has warned that the goals set out by Washington are too ambitious and beyond the reach of developing economies.
Mr. Wu said China is concerned about include lowering tariffs on environmental goods that could include renewable energy and waste recycling. He also expressed concerns about lowering energy intensity targets, which measure a country's energy consumption versus its economic output.
Chinese Assistant Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua also pointed out that APEC is a non-binding forum, noting that goals set there should accommodate the comfort-level and readiness of all members.
In response to China's reservations, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said: “I understand China may be uncomfortable with it ... We’re always going to try to push the envelope and encourage our partners to be more assertive, more forward-thinking. We don’t serve the interests of American entrepreneurs and innovators if we go in and always see the floor as the highest level of ambition.”
Mr. Kirk is seeking an agreement with 20 other APEC nations to lower tariffs on environmental goods and services, such as renewable energy technology, a move supported by US companies. The U.S. has pushed for free trade in those products as part of the stalled Doha Round of World Trade Organization talks.
Last month, US solar panel manufacturers filed a trade complaint, asking the US government to levy anti-dumping tariffs on solar products from China. They have accused their Chinese rivals of dumping panels on the US at prices below the cost of production, and claim Beijing provides illegal subsidies to Chinese firms. China has denied the allegations.
On Monday, China's largest solar power plant developer put a planned US$500 million project in America on hold over the anti-dumping trade dispute. CECEP Solar Energy Technology Co Ltd, a unit of the state-owned giant China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group, said the planned installation of China-made panels to generate solar power in California, New Jersey and Texas would be made uneconomic by U.S. anti-dumping moves.
The Obama administration is also working on a trade deal with eight Pacific nations on the sidelines of the APEC summit. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an existing deal between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. Five additional countries, Australia, Malaysia, Peru, United States, and Vietnam are currently negotiating to join the group. Officials hope to have a broad consensus on the new agreement by this week.
On Monday, Chinese officials called on countries in the TPP negotiations to strike a balance between the new regional pact and already existing multilateral trading mechanisms, ensuring that the TPP is a supplement rather than a replacement. With reports that Japan may officially join the TPP negotiations this week, there has been speculation China might also be asked to join. But officials said yesterday that Beijing has not yet been invited.
Report: China Disputes Some US Goals For APEC [Voice of America, 7 Nov 2011]
Report: China shelves U.S. solar project in trade row [Reuters, 7 Nov 2011]
Report: U.S. Vows to Push APEC Trade Agenda China Calls Overly Ambitious [Bloomberg, 8 Nov 2011]
Chinese President Hu Jintao will elaborate on China's views about the economic situation in the Asia-Pacific and the world at large at the upcoming APEC summit, said Chinese Ambassador to the US Zhang Yesui.
Mr. Zhang said Mr. Hu will elaborate on China's positions on such issues as global economic governance, economic development in the Asia-Pacific region and the multilateral trading system, and hold bilateral meetings with leaders of some other APEC economies.
Report: Chinese president to address economic issues at APEC summit: ambassador[Xinhua, 8 Nov 2011]
Thai PM to Miss APEC
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she will miss the APEC summit in Hawaii this weekend. She had planned to brief leaders about the flooding crisis and boost investor confidence in her country.
But with the mass of water now threatening the heart of Bangkok, Ms. Yingluck said she would instead send Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong, who is also the commerce minister, on her behalf.
The 12-13 November APEC meeting would have been the first international summit for Ms. Yingluck, who only came to power three months ago. Ms. Yingluck said she would discuss with her cabinet whether to attend the ASEAN summit in Bali next week.
Report: Thai PM to skip APEC summit due to flood crisis [AFP, 8 Nov 2011]