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Prayut brings Apec summit to a close

Prayut brings Apec summit to a close

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hands a ceremonial chalom to US Vice President Kamala Harris at the conclusion of the Apec summit at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok on Saturday. The US will host the 2023 event in San Francisco.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha brought the 2022 Apec Summit to a close on Saturday, saying he hopes member economies will work together to help the Asia-Pacific region prosper.

The world is undergoing significant change and the environment and sustainability are crucial, he said after members adopted a final statement that placed a strong emphasis on the “Bangkok Goals” to promote a bio-circular-green (BCG) model.

“We hope the BCG economic model will also be one of the main factors that bring economies together,” said Gen Prayut.

The event concluded with a ceremonial handover to US Vice President Kamala Harris, who said her country would stage next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.

Gen Prayut presented Ms Harris with a chalom — the traditional Thai basket that inspired the Apec logo — saying it represented strength, flexibility and consistency.

The 2023 summit will be held during the week of Nov 12, Ms Harris said. The location at the heart of Silicon Valley will give the administration of President Joe Biden an opportunity to highlight America’s technological dominance at a time of increasingly fraught competition with China.

“Our host year will demonstrate the enduring economic commitment of the United States to the Indo-Pacific,” Ms Harris said. “We are working to strengthen our economic relationships throughout the region, including by increasing two-way trade flows and the free flow of capital, which supports millions of American jobs.”

Ms Harris — an Oakland native who previously represented California in the US Senate and served as San Francisco district attorney — was in Thailand to represent Mr Biden at the Apec leaders’ meeting.

The Bangkok summit produced a statement on which there was broad consensus on a wide range of issues ranging from sustainable development to open markets. But it was also a forum for leaders to wrangle over Russia’s war in Ukraine and its fallout.

While most members strongly condemned the war, “there were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions”, a carefully worded declaration read.

Apec leaders also discussed nuclear weapons and “everyone was concerned about it”, Gen Prayut told a briefing. On Friday, Ms Harris held an impromptu meeting with leaders of US allies after North Korea tested a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in Japanese waters.

In a related development, Ms Harris briefly met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, a White House official said, as leaders of the world’s biggest economies continue to cool tensions.

Ms Harris stressed the need for the US and China to maintain open lines of communication to responsibly manage competition, reiterating a message delivered by President Biden in a landmark meeting with Mr Xi on Monday tab the G20 talks in Bali, the official said.

In the meeting with Ms Harris, Xi called his meeting with Biden “strategic and constructive, and gives important guidance to the next stage of Sino-US relations”.

“I hope both sides will step up mutual understanding, reduce misunderstanding and misjudgement, and together push for Sino-US relations to return to a health and stable track,” Mr Xi said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The leaders reiterated the bloc’s commitment to a rules-based multilateral trading system and cited progress in advancing the Free-Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

Leaders also said they recognised that more intensive efforts were needed to address such challenges as rising inflation, food security, climate change and natural disasters.

After San Francisco, the summit will move to Peru in 2024 and South Korea in 2025.

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