Turnbull Hopeful Trump Will Eventually Accept an Asia Trade Pact

Malcolm Turnbull speaks at the APEC Summit in Lima.

Photographer: Guillermo Gutierrez/Bloomberg

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he his hopeful U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of trade pacts won’t doom a planned Trans-Pacific Partnership in the longer term.

While Trump has criticized existing accords, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, he hasn’t made a blanket pronouncement against free trade, Turnbull said on Saturday in Lima, where he is attending a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization.

“Free trade is a long game, it really is a long game,” Turnbull said, according to a government statement. “It may well be that, over time, the TPP is re-embraced by the U.S., by the Congress or indeed by the president, perhaps in the same form it is today, perhaps in a different form.”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on APEC members to reject attempts to slow cooperation between nations after Trump won the election by saying he will protect his country from free-trade agreements that he says are destroying American jobs. The protectionist mood in the U.S. means the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which doesn’t include China, is increasingly unlikely to be ratified by Congress.

Turnbull declined to comment when asked if Australia was in negotiations with Malaysia for a refugee-resettlement agreement.

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