APEC finance ministers will meet in Chile today with the US-China trade war at the centre of talks

The APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) begins two days of talks in Santiago today, ahead of the APEC Leaders’ Summit

apec chile

Photo: Agencies

The APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) begins two days of talks in Santiago today, ahead of the APEC Leaders’ Summit on November 16-17.

Last year’s FMM joint statement pledged, among other things, to refrain from competitive currency devaluation. Those statements were clearly aimed at China in the context of the Sino-American trade war. Later at the APEC Summit, tensions between Washington and Beijing caused no joint communique for the first time in APEC’s 20-year history.

Expect this year’s FMM to continue along a similar vein; Washington and Beijing will likely use the forum to advance their policy positions regarding the trade war. However, this year’s APEC could prove to be vital to ongoing negotiations to end their 15-month dispute. There is hope of the two sides brokering an agreement that President Donald Trump and counterpart Xi Jinping can announce at the APEC Summit in November.

Sino-American relations are expected to ease this week. Trump has accepted a Chinese “partial deal”—Beijing offered to buy more US agricultural products but did not commit to full foreign access to China’s finance sector. This will stave off further US tariff hikes, which were set to increase to 30% on $250 billion of Chinese imports to the US. However, there is no sign yet of China wanting to give further concessions for Trump to agree to a full deal at APEC.