The Latest: Southeast Asian meet starts with call for unity
SINGAPORE (AP) — The Latest on the meeting in Singapore of leaders from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (all times local):
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have begun their annual summit with calls to work together to resolve tensions over trade and other issues.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomed fellow members of the 10-nation grouping by saying that joint efforts are more urgent than ever.
He said the international order is “at a turning point” and it’s unclear if the rules of the global system that have underpinned the region’s peace and growing wealth will survive.
Lee said ASEAN and several other major countries including India and China have made “substantive progress” on a market-opening initiative called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. It is unclear whether a deal on the initiative will be reached in Singapore.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The potential damage to global trade caused by U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariff battle with Beijing is looming as leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, the U.S. and other regional economies meet in Singapore this week.
New tariffs imposed by the U.S. and China on billions of dollars of each other’s products in a dispute over technology policy and other issues have begun to bite.
It’s unclear if the region’s reliance on trade will lead ASEAN to push ahead this week with a free trade pact that would commit member countries to opening their markets further. But the talk in Singapore is of freer trade.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a business forum Monday that no country can handle trends toward more protectionism, uncertainty and other destabilizing factors alone.