PM Lee meets counterparts in Danang

Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang and his wife Nguyen Thi Hien welcoming Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mrs Lee to a gala dinner for Apec leaders at the Sheraton Danang last night. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

DANANG (Vietnam) • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrived in Danang yesterday for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders' meeting, and met several of his counterparts.

They included Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, as well as New Zealand's Prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who was sworn in last month.

They, as well as leaders of most of the 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, had gathered for a scheduled meeting on taking the trade deal forward without the United States after its pullout in January, but that meeting was called off.

Apec was formed in 1989 as an informal forum for countries to discuss free trade and economic cooperation across the Pacific Rim.

The grouping has expanded from its original 12 members to 21 economies, which represent about 39 per cent of the world's population, 57 per cent of its gross domestic product and 49 per cent of international trade.

One of its goals is to work towards a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, and the grouping regularly engages business leaders from member countries.

Yesterday, Mr Lee joined fellow leaders in a dialogue with members of the Apec Business Advisory Council, an annual event held alongside the Apec summit.

He also attended an informal dialogue between Apec and Asean leaders to discuss how the two groups can complement each other and work closer together. Seven Asean members are in Apec - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are not Apec members.

In the evening, Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang and his wife hosted a gala dinner and cultural performance for Apec leaders.

Today, the leaders will hold two retreats and a lunch discussion, focusing on promoting regional economic integration and inclusive and sustainable growth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2017, with the headline 'PM Lee meets counterparts in Danang'. Print Edition | Subscribe