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Japan, US and 3 others quit APEC trade meeting in protest against Russia

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Representatives of Japan, the United States and three other countries briefly walked out of a meeting of Asia-Pacific trade ministers on Saturday to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine, officials said.

The two-day meeting in Bangkok of the Asia-Pacific economic cooperation forum will end on Sunday, with promoting trade and investment in a post-COVID-19 world high on the agenda.

Photo shows a trade ministers meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok, Thailand, May 21, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Thai government) (Kyodo)

The coordinated walkout also involving Australia, Canada and New Zealand came as Maksim Reshetnikov, Russia’s economic development minister, began delivering his remarks during a morning session, Japanese officials said.

Delegations from the five countries left the room for about three minutes as the Russian minister spoke but then returned to the table, officials said.

While 21 economies forming the group, including China and Indonesia, remain separate in their responses to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, it is unclear whether a joint statement will be issued by ministers after the meeting.

Thai Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, who is leading the meeting, said he would issue a president’s statement if APEC could not issue a joint statement.

“We hope that the outcomes of this year’s APEC Trade Ministers’ Meeting will play an important role in helping to determine the policy direction for recovery and boosting regional economic growth in various areas post-COVID- 19,” Jurin said earlier. opening the meeting.

It was the first meeting of APEC trade ministers held in person in three years as restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic eased.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda held talks with some of his counterparts on the US-led Indo-Pacific economic framework that may be l one of the main problems.

The framework, called IPEF, aims to encourage openness while improving prosperity and building the region’s resilience, according to the US government.

Its launch is expected to be officially announced during US President Joe Biden’s trip to Japan, where he will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday.

“We welcome IPEF, as it will be a framework for strengthening American involvement in the Indo-Pacific region,” Hagiuda told reporters in Tokyo before departing for the Thai capital.

Other issues on the agenda include food insecurity, high energy prices and the recovery of tourism.

Founded in 1989, APEC operates on the basis of non-binding and consensual cooperation to discuss free trade and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

APEC members represent about 60% of the world’s gross domestic product and about 50% of world trade.

This year’s APEC Leaders’ Meeting is scheduled to be held face-to-face in November in Bangkok.

APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru , the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

Related coverage:

APEC Leaders Agree to Advance Integration, Work for Economic Recovery

Asia-Pacific ministers agree to accelerate vaccine distribution

APEC GDP expected to grow 6.3% in 2021 as vaccines spark optimism

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