Delegations from the US, Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand departed when the Russian representative at APEC – Tuoi Tre – spoke

Delegations from the USA, Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand left when the Russian representative spoke at APEC - Photo 1.

APEC Ministers of Commerce at a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on May 21 – Photo: KYODO

The Kyodo news agency quoted Japanese officials as saying that officials from the US, Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand left when grandfather Maxim ReshetnikovMinister of Economic Development of Russia began speaking at the morning session on May 21.

Delegations from these five countries left the meeting room for about three minutes while Minister Maxim Reshetnikov spoke, but then returned.

A US official in Bangkok confirmed the delegations’ departure but gave no further details, the Associated Press reported. It is known that US Trade Representative Katherine Tai represented Washington at this meeting.

A statement from the office of New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor said he left the meeting to protest Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. The campaign “slowed down the region’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and made it harder for people in the region to access food,” he said.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting was held over two days in Bangkok, Thailand and will end on May 22, with one of the contents being to promote trade and investment in post-COVID-19 countries.

This is the first in-person meeting of APEC trade ministers in the past three years as many countries eased restrictive measures against COVID-19.

Delegations from the USA, Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand left when the Russian representative spoke at APEC - photo 2.

Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov attends the APEC trade ministers’ meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on May 21 – Photo: AP

According to Kyodo, given that 21 member economies of APEC (including China, the US…) still have different reactions to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, it is not clear whether the ministers will raise the matter in a joint statement after this one Meeting.

Thai Trade Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said he will issue a statement from the APEC President if APEC is unable to issue a joint statement.

“We hope that the outcome of this year’s APEC trade ministers will play an important role in setting the policy direction for the recovery and boosting economic growth in the region in many areas post-COVID-19,” said Mr. Jurin.