President Donald Trump gave a spirited airing of his “America First” doctrine in a speech to Asia-Pacific leaders on Friday, vowing his country will “no longer tolerate” unfair trade, closed markets and intellectual property theft, as he seeks to rewrite the rules of global commerce.
In a speech that by turns lavished praise on Asia-Pacific nations and accused them of undercutting the world’s largest economy, he said US interests had been ill-served by the architecture of global trade.
America “will not tolerate… chronic trade abuses” he said as he took aim at the World Trade Organisation for failing to police free trade infringements.
“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of any more. I am always going to put America first the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”
In a day bringing together the big hitters of politics and business, Trump will share the venue with world leaders including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Japan’s Shinzo Abe and China’s Xi Jinping.
Xi is also set to deliver a speech, likely to present a competing narrative casting China as the leader of global free trade, a role vacated by America.
China announced Friday it will further open the country’s financial markets to foreign firms, a key demand from the US and other global investors who have long complained about strict limits on access to the giant economy.
Trump arrives fresh from trips to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, where he sought to build a consensus against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
In China he was gushing in his praise of Xi, calling his host “a very special man” in a trip rich with photo opportunities but lacking concrete outcomes on tackling key issues such as North Korea.
As the US retreats behind “economic nationalism”, China will take a stride forward, said Ian Bremmer of the political consultancy Eurasia.