- Title: Australia's leader underscores innovation as APEC gets underway
- Date: 18th November 2016
- Summary: LIMA, PERU (NOVEMBER 18, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SECURITY OUTSIDE SUMMIT
- Embargoed: 3rd December 2016 23:05
- Keywords: Malcolm Turnbull APEC Australia Shinzo Abe Michelle Bachelet
- Location: LIMA, PERU
- City: LIMA, PERU
- Country: Peru
- Topics: Diplomacy/Foreign Policy,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00358Z4KLJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit Friday (November 18), Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull championed realism and pragmatic responses amid global sourness relating to global trade and technological displacement.
Leaders of Pacific rim nations gathered in Peru on Friday, looking to China to salvage hopes for regional trade as prospects of a Donald Trump presidency in the United States sounded a possible death knell for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact.
Discussions between the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit were dominated by fears of rising anti-globalization sentiment in the West, with increasing signs that countries are looking to China to take up the slack in leading global trade.
U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to attend the summit that brings together leaders whose economies represent 57 percent of global gross domestic product.
While speaking at a conference on innovation, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged the turbulence caused by living during a time of change.
"Just dealing with the issue of innovation at a higher level, if you accept, and I think we must, that the tenor of our times is change at a pace and scale unprecedented in human history, then it follows that if you are going to be successful, or remain successful, to remain competitive, you have to be innovative. And that requires cultural change as well more conventional leadership, it requires organisations, whether they are government departments, whether they are governments, whether they are big companies or whether they are small companies to be much more open to doing things in different ways," he said.
Survival means embracing the change, he added.
"The fact is we know what we have to do. We have to ensure that our nations, our businesses, our cultures are much more innovative. That is the key to maintaining strong economic growth, if you don't have that strong economic growth, then the consequences of the inevitable technological disruption, or the disruption caused by technological change will be much more severe."
While campaigning for the presidential election which he won, Trump labeled the TPP "a disaster" and called for curbs on immigration. His isolationist stance echoed sentiments in Britain, which voted in June to quit the European Union.
Though Obama championed the TPP, his administration has now stopped trying to win congressional approval for the deal that was signed by 12 economies in the Americas and Asia-Pacific, but excluded China. Without U.S. approval the agreement as currently negotiated cannot come to fruition.
But the global focus on trade, Turnbull said, is a distraction from the real challenge of coping with and embracing technological change.
"You can't with very few exceptions, it's almost impossible to wall a country off from technological change even if you had very protectionist trade policies how do you stop the technology? Are you seriously going to regulate against innovation? It's impossible. So again you get back to the point, much of the disruption is the consequence of technology, or technological change, rather than free trade," he said.
China's Xi is expected to sell an alternate vision for regional trade by promoting the Beijing-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which as it stands excludes the Americas.
Summit host Peru, one of the world's most open economies, has already said it would like to join the Beijing-backed trade pact.
Others like Japan have expressed interest in moving forward with some sort of regional trade pact without the United States, Peruvian Vice President Mercedes Araoz said.
Australia's Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said he hoped negotiations on TPP would continue, but in the meantime believed the Chinese-led agreement presented a big opportunity.
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