China may be urging major multilateral institutions to join their new Belt and Road Initiative but it's not the only country keen to secure new trade deals, despite the U.S. trying to unravel them. As David Pollard reports, Australia and key economies in Asia are all rejecting protectionism in order to seek global economic growth.
For romance, there's speed dating. For trade, this is speed diplomacy. Handshake to signature at a dizzying pace, as China follows up on its 30-nation Silk Road summit - with a slew of bilateral accords. Elsewhere too the global race is on for new deals. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER, SHINZO ABE, SAYING: "I don't want to lose the momentum of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Japan wants to exert leadership so that we can steer the debate in a clear direction when the 11 ministers meet in Hanoi." Just one year ago, Hanoi was playing host to Barack Obama. Now it's about to host Japan and others for an APEC trade summit - a different president in the White House. Despite pulling the US out of the TPP, he's (Trump) sending his new trade representative. A positive sign for some of the US softening on protectionism. Others warn: don't hold your breath. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "They're going to put America first. And whilst they are not necessarily threatening protectionism they do nonetheless reserve the right to resort to protectionism if they are in a trade deal which they don't consider to be fair to their own interests." (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR TRADE, TOURISM AND INVESTMENT, STEVEN CIOBO, SAYING: "We don't have a specific end date but ideally in 12 months or less, and if we could do it this year then I think that would be a terrific outcome ....." The U.S. protectionist threat adding more urgency ... As Australia and Hong Kong set a date for completing talks on trade in finance, construction, mining and energy. Here though, there's less haste ... On the same day, the European Court of Justice ruling that all 28 EU countries will need to ratify an EU-Singapore free trade deal. A decision that could also slow Britain's advance towards a post-Brexit deal - even before that starts.