CYBERJAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has shot down a proposal by the United States to reschedule the cancelled Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in the US next month, calling it unnecessary.
According to him, he heard there was an invitation extended to Apec countries on the proposed rescheduled Apec meeting in the US in January after the meeting supposed to be held in Chile last month was cancelled due to the unrest affecting the South American country.
“Almost every one of us decided that it was not necessary, so we will not go,” he told reporters after the launch of Apec 2020 Malaysia here today.
The Prime Minister said this when asked on the proposal to reschedule the Apec leaders’ meeting following the cancellation by Chile in November and to have it in the United States next month.
Responding to another question on details and consideration for declining to attend the rescheduled meeting after President Donald Trump sent his special ambassador to extend the invitation, Dr Mahathir reiterated: “I think it was not necessary on the first place.”
“Chile has actually done a good deal of work in their preparation (of the Apec meeting) and nobody else can do many years of work like Chile.
“If you have an impromptu meeting call, that is why we decided it was not necessary,” the Prime Minister added.
Earlier in his speech, Prime Minister congratulated and thanked the government and people of Chile, as the outgoing host of Apec 2019, for the work done to take forward the many initiatives to strengthen economic cooperation among the group’s 21 economies.
“Like others, Malaysia would like to express regret over the cancellation of Chile’s Apec Leaders’ Meeting last month. We understand the challenges faced by the government of Chile and hope that the situation in Chile will return to normalcy soon,” he further said.
The Prime Minister said, this, however, did not negate all the good work done by Chile throughout her hosting year.
“In furthering Chile’s commendable work, I invite all the Apec Economic Leaders to Malaysia in November 2020 to discuss the issues that matter to the resilience of Apec, the resilience of trade and investment, and the resilience of our economic wellbeing,” he added.
Meanwhile, commenting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Dr Mahathir urged some trade protection for smaller economies in order to help them compete in international free trade.
In expressing his concern, Prime Minister said small economies usually are not the main beneficiary of free trade, unlike big economies.
Dr Mahathir said small economies earned very little from export simply because they don’t have much to trade.
“Some members of this free trade are very advance in manufacturing and they produce a whole lot of things they can export that actually desired by the other members.
“On the other hand, the smaller countries are just beginning to industrialise and find they can not compete with the old industrialised countries, so there must be some protection,“ added the Prime Minister. — Bernama