Straits Times: PM Lee in Danang for Apec leaders' meeting

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives in Danang today for a meeting of leaders of 21 Pacific Rim economies, with trade, political and security issues on the agenda.

This year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders' meeting takes place amid uncertainty in trade policy and political tension in many economies, and as trade and foreign ministers meeting ahead of the leaders' summit had struggled to agree on a joint statement on free trade.

After a few days of continuous rain in the coastal city brought by Typhoon Damrey, the skies cleared yesterday in time for the arrival of world leaders today.

Those attending the two-day summit include United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Analysts expect Mr Trump, at his first Apec meeting, to articulate what his "America first" policy means for US engagement of the region and the rest of the world.

The Prime Minister's Office said in a statement yesterday that Apec leaders "will discuss ways to promote closer regional economic integration and foster greater inclusive and sustainable growth".

Yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman represented Singapore at the Apec ministerial meeting, which dragged on for a second day after members failed to reach a consensus on open markets and other strategic issues .

After the meeting's close yesterday, Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh said it was a "big success" despite "diverse views".

The decisions made by the ministers will guide the leaders when they meet on Saturday.

PM Lee will arrive today ahead of a meeting between leaders of the 11 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Talks on pushing ahead without the US, which pulled out last year, reportedly reached a critical point yesterday as ministers discussed an agreement in principle, Reuters reported. Canada, New Zealand and Malaysia were reportedly among the countries that were not as eager to hurry the talks.

While in Danang, Mr Lee will hold bilateral meetings with many other Apec leaders. He will be there with Mrs Lee and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Trade and Industry. In his absence, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean will be Acting PM.