(Bloomberg) – A meeting of trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Group failed to issue a formal joint statement a day after the United States and Russia held a tit-for-tat walkout during their presentation at the meeting.
Thai Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanauisit said in a statement on Sunday that the 21-member bloc in Bangkok could not issue a joint statement due to some differences between the groups. Instead, the member economy has approved Thailand’s statement on the chair, he said.
Kyodo News reported on Saturday that officials from the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had resigned following remarks made by Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov. The Russian delegation boycotted a presentation by a U.S. official the next day, Tas reported. The US delegation was led by Trade Representative Katherine So.
On Saturday, Jurin expressed hope that the meeting would still move forward to discuss key trade issues and issue a possible joint statement. But disagreements over part of it mean it should be removed, he said on Sunday.
Russia has said that attempts by some APEC members to politicize the event were due to a lack of consensus and joint statements, Tas reported, citing Reshetnikov.
Thailand, as chair and host of the APEC leaders summit in November, will consult with members before issuing a statement in the form of a document, Jurin said.
Jurin said APEC members agreed on the need to move forward to transform the bloc into a so-called Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area, or FTAAP. A working group has also been formed to facilitate better communication between the members in terms of people, products and services, he said.
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