MALCOLM Turnbull is yet to snag an early meeting with US president-elect Donald Trump before his official inauguration in January — even though he was one of the first world leaders to congratulate him on his election win.
Mr Turnbull arrived in Lima for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit on Friday morning local time and is expected to have bilateral talks with outgoing President Barack Obama in coming days.
“I certainly look forward to seeing the president-elect (Mr Trump) whether it is prior to his inauguration or certainly afterwards,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Lima, adding that Mr Trump had a very busy schedule.
The pair had discussed having an early meeting during a phone call conversation in which Mr Turnbull had congratulated him on his election victory.
The PM was the second world leader to congratulate Trump after golfing legend Greg Norman passed on his private mobile number and helped facilitate the phone call.
“It hasn’t been possible to schedule one on the way to (APEC) and certainly not on the way back because I’ll already be missing a day of parliament, and that’s one day enough if not one day too many,” Mr Turnbull said.
The implications of Trump’s election and fading prospects of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal are expected to dominate the agenda.
Dozens of protesters rallied against the TPP outside the APEC venues in Lima.
But Mr Turnbull maintained APEC needed to stay the course on free trade.
“(Protectionism) is the way to poverty,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in the Peru capital.
“We have seen this film before, the world did this in the 1930s after the Great Depression and made it much worse.”
Mr Turnbull was reluctant to directly attack President-elect Trump’s anti-free trade rhetoric but he did take his Australian political opponent to task accusing Bill Shorten of chasing a short-term ” cynical sugar hit”.
He claimed Mr Shorten was trashing former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke’s legacy as a founding father of APEC which promotes economic integration.
The federal opposition has recently been highlighting the impact of job cuts stemming from globalisation and has lobbied for businesses to advertise jobs locally before bringing in foreign workers under the 457 visa scheme.
“He is putting Australia’s jobs and our economic prosperity at risk,” Mr Turnbull said.
“My job is to talk about what is in the interests of Australians, I’ll leave the Americans to manage their own affairs.”
The prime minister held bilateral talks with Peru’s president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who is a big fan of Australia.
“I love Australia,” he told reporters, adding he first travelled there in 1961 to work on the Snowy Mountain Scheme for the World Bank and he met his American wife in Melbourne.
“We’re a very cosmopolitan country,” Mr Turnbull replied.