Accord on revised Pacific Rim trade pact stalled

Leaders and their spouses pose for a family photo ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit leaders gala dinner in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 10, 2017. (AFP / Vietnam News Agency)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Accord on revised Pacific Rim trade pact stalled

DANANG, Vietnam: Talks on a Pacific Rim trade pact abandoned by US President Donald Trump appeared to have stalled Friday as Canada balked at a basic agreement worked out in ministerial-level talks hours before.
Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in January. Leaders of the 11 countries remaining in the TPP had been due to meet and endorse a deal worked out in last-minute talks overnight.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that the 11 leaders had to postpone their meeting on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam.
“It was said that it is not at a stage where (the agreement) can be confirmed at the summit level,” said Abe, who was to co-chair the meeting. He made the comments to Japanese reporters after meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, who stayed away from the planned TPP leaders’ gathering while most other leaders showed up.
There was no immediate word from Canada on its stance. However, Trudeau had said days earlier that Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.
The chances for a deal by the time the summit ends on Saturday were unclear.
Earlier in the day, officials from Japan and some other countries expressed differing opinions on whether an “agreement in principle” had been reached.
The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the US, the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to, as he says, “put America first.”
Vietnamese officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.
The US president told an APEC business conference that “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore.” He lambasted the World Trade Organization and other trade forums as unfair to the United States and reiterated his preference for bilateral trade deals, saying “I am always going to put America first.”
Trump said he would not enter into large trade agreements, alluding to US involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP.
In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the same group that nations need to stay committed to economic openness or risk being left behind.
The Chinese president drew loud applause when he urged support for the “multilateral trading regime” and progress toward a free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific.
APEC operates by consensus and customarily issues nonbinding statements. TPP commitments would eventually be ratified and enforced by its members.
But even talks this week on a declaration to cap the APEC summit had to be extended for an extra half day as ministers haggled over wording. It’s unclear what the exact sticking points were, but officials have alluded to differences over the unequal impact more open trade has had on workers and concerns over automation in manufacturing that could leave many millions in a wide array of industries with no work to do.
As a developing country with a fast-growing export sector, this year’s host country, Vietnam, has a strong interest in open trade and access for its exports to consumers in the West. The summit is an occasion for its leaders to showcase the progress its economy has made thanks largely to foreign investment and trade. Danang, Vietnam’s third largest city, is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and smaller hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.
APEC’s members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.


Gold slips to 1-year low as US dollar firms

Updated 54 min 46 sec ago
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Gold slips to 1-year low as US dollar firms

BENGALURU: Gold extended falls to a one-year low on Thursday as the US dollar firmed after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell asserted the need for further interest rate hikes amid a strong economy.
Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,223.56 an ounce at 0703 GMT.
The yellow metal slipped to its lowest since July last year at $1,220.41 an ounce earlier in the session. US gold futures for August delivery were 0.4 percent lower at $1,223.20 an ounce.
“Gold market is just following the US dollar, the dollar is strong so it’s pushing the market down,” said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.
“The economy is still good and interest rate still up, so that’s good for the US dollar and negative for gold for the time being.” The dollar held firm against its peers, supported by bullish comments from Powell, which affirmed expectations for at least two more interest rate hikes this year.
“Rallies continue to be well sold and it is difficult to see a break toward $1,236 — $1,240 (in gold) with the current dollar strength,” MKS PAMP Group said in a note.
Fed’s Powell in a closely watched two-day congressional testimony, said he believed the United States was on course for years more of steady growth, and carefully played down the risks to the US economy of an escalating trade conflict.
However, manufacturers in every one of the Federal Reserve’s 12 districts worried about the impact of tariffs, a Federal Reserve report said on Wednesday, even as the US economy continued to expand at a moderate to modest pace.
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States may hammer out a trade deal with Mexico, and then do a separate one with Canada later, sowing fresh doubts about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Spot gold has found a support zone of $1,220-$1,226 per ounce.
It may hover above this zone for one more day or bounce toward a resistance at $1,237, Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao said.
Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.8 percent at $15.41 an ounce, after earlier hitting its lowest since last July at $15.33 an ounce.
Platinum was 0.4 percent lower at $810.30 an ounce. In the previous session, it hit an over two-week low of $798.14.
Palladium was down 0.1 percent at $905.47 per ounce. It fell to its weakest since April 9 at $902.97 on Wednesday.