Europe, Asia Leaders Meet on Trade 10/19 06:09
European and Asian leaders gathered Friday to pledge their support for free
trade, at a meeting that underscored trade tensions with U.S. President Donald
BRUSSELS (AP) -- European and Asian leaders gathered Friday to pledge their
support for free trade, at a meeting that underscored trade tensions with U.S.
President Donald Trump.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels
would send a signal that "countries are coming together here from Europe and
Asia that all want rules-based global trade and are committed to
The meeting brings together 30 European leaders with their counterparts from
21 Asian nations as well as top officials from the European Union and
Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Together, the group accounts for some two-thirds of the world's economic
output, 55 percent of global trade and 60 percent of the world's population.
In a draft of the meeting's closing statement seen by The Associated Press,
the leaders say they "highlighted the vital need of maintaining an open world
economy and upholding the rules-based multilateral trading system, with the
World Trade Organization at its core."
Trump slapped 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on imported
aluminum from the EU on June 1. He said the move was to protect U.S. national
security interests, but the Europeans claim it is simply protectionism and
breaks global trade rules. The EU hit back with tariffs on about 2.8 billion
euros-worth ($3.4 billion) of U.S. steel, agricultural and other products.
The stakes are even higher in Trump's trade war with China. Trump has
imposed tariffs on about $250 billion of Chinese products amid U.S. accusations
that China engages in cyber-theft and coerces foreign companies into handing
over technology in return for access to the Chinese market, as well as by
Trump's anger over China's trade surplus with the U.S.
The wide-ranging agenda of the Brussels meeting also included discussions on
climate change, with leaders in the draft conclusions "expressing their
profound concern that current global efforts are insufficient" to meet goals
set out in the Paris climate accord. Trump has removed the U.S. from that deal.
In another draft conclusion that ran counter to U.S. policy, European and
Asian leaders praised the Iran nuclear deal --- another multilateral initiative
rejected by Trump.
"Preserving the nuclear deal with Iran is a matter of respecting
international agreements, and promoting international security, peace and
stability," the draft conclusions said.
One region where the leaders in Brussels were more closely aligned with
Trump was the Korean peninsula, where the U.S. president has been involved with
efforts to end North Korea's nuclear program.
The draft declaration hailed efforts by South Korea and "other partners" to
"achieve lasting peace and stability on a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear
Rights groups and lawmakers had called on the European leaders to push their
Asian counterparts on human rights, citing abuses in many Asian nations,
including the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar's military is accused of widespread rights
violations, including rape, murder, torture and burning villages, which has
seen about 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh since August last year.
Without mentioning Rohingya by name, the leaders underscored the need to
pave the way for the "safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return of
displaced persons to Rakhine State."