PM Lee in Vietnam for Apec meeting with fellow leaders
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrived in Danang, Vietnam, yesterday for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders' meeting and met several of his counterparts.
They included Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, as well as New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was sworn in last month.
They and the leaders of most of the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) had gathered for a scheduled meeting on taking the trade deal forward without the United States after its pullout in January, but that meeting was unexpectedly called off after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to turn up.
Speaking to reporters here, Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chief executive officer Ho Meng Kit expressed disappointment that the TPP talks collapsed at the eleventh hour.
"Up until lunch time (yesterday), I was very hopeful. SBF even had a statement that was ready to be issued (to welcome the news of an agreement). Unfortunately, things didn't happen and I am not sure why," he said.
"What is needed now is for the countries to go back, look at their sums again, and re-engage."
Mr Ho added that this latest setback was not as damaging as when the US withdrew completely from the pact, and he expressed hope that the sticking points could be overcome eventually.
"My overall sense is that the 11 countries are like-minded and they believe in openness, and they all believe in having a comprehensive and high-quality agreement," he said.
The ministers met again last night to reaffirm the package deal that had been struck, and they plan to issue a joint statement today, the sources said.
Yesterday, Mr Lee joined fellow leaders in a dialogue with members of the Apec Business Advisory Council.
He also attended an informal dialogue between Apec and Asean leaders to discuss how the two can complement each other and work closer together.
Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and his wife hosted a gala dinner and cultural performance for Apec leaders.
Today, the leaders will hold two retreats and a lunch discussion, focusing on promoting regional economic integration and inclusive and sustainable growth.
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