Political News

Trump delivers 'America first' speech at Asia-Pacific economic summit

Posted November 10, 2017 2:22 a.m. EST

— President Donald Trump brought his hard-line economic nationalism to a summit of Asian leaders here Friday, issuing a stern rebuke of trade practices that have harmed American workers but continuing to insist his US predecessors are to blame.

"We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore," Trump said in a speech at the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. "I am always going to put America first, the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first."

It was a familiar message delivered to an audience that's still coming to grips with Trump's protectionist views. Even as Trump makes his debut appearance at this yearly set of meetings, other leaders are preparing a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership -- the landmark trade accord negotiated by the Obama administration but scrapped by Trump -- that doesn't included the United States.

It's a show of defiance against a US president who has issued a harsh line on trade during his tour of Asia -- but not necessarily against the countries engaging in unfair practices.

He renewed his criticism of past US administrations on Friday, saying they ignored the imbalances in trading practices that allowed other countries to take advantage of the US.

"The current trade imbalance it not acceptable," Trump said. "I do not blame China, or any other country, of which there are many, for taking advantage of the United States on trade. If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs."

"I wish previous administrations in my country saw what was happening and did something about it," Trump said.

It was a repeat of a line Trump debuted in Beijing on Thursday as he stood alongside President Xi Jinping to announce new agreements between American companies and China. His exoneration of China for its trade practices broke longstanding tradition of American presidents holding their Chinese counterparts accountable for the trade imbalance.