A China-backed bid to complete the world's largest trade deal - without the United States - was pushed back to next year after Asia-Pacific trade ministers failed to agree key terms at a Singapore summit.
In an interview with U.S. broadcast CNCB here yesterday, Dr Mahathir had predicted that Donald Trump's removal as USA president will end the superpower's ongoing trade war with China - the spillover effects of which have disrupted the economies of other countries, including Malaysia.
"It's going to send a message to the global community that we stand by free trade. with rising protectionism and strains on free trade, we need to advance the RCEP negotiations", Li said, in comments delivered at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.
Officials said that discussions are underway to set up a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence on the margins of the ASEAN-related summits, and a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit.
"The ASEAN-India Breakfast Summit at Singapore will provide an opportunity to review progress in the relationship", the statement said.
The Modi-Pence meeting comes just days after the USA re-imposed sanctions on import of crude oil from Iran but temporarily allowed India, China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey to continue the purchase from the Gulf nation without any penalty.
European Union foreign ministers in Brussels for Brexit update
As Brexit talks reach the end-game, RTE and BBC Northern Ireland teamed up for a special live Brexit programme on Monday night. Several Tory MPs are unhappy at the expected shape of the deal and have warned it will not get through Parliament.
In his speech, he said "the rise of trade protectionism, resurgent nationalistic movements and inward-looking policies" seemed to be emerging even among ASEAN nations. He has renegotiated an existing pact with South Korea and the three-way deal with Mexico and Canada, and pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which involved four Southeast Asian states.
He said the worldwide order is "at a turning point" and it's unclear if the rules of the global system that have underpinned the region's peace and growing wealth will survive. "We are willing to negotiate with all sides to push ahead with free trade internationally, and we're also willing to discuss a fairer system".
China and ASEAN agreed in August on a working text to continue long drawn-out negotiations over the code of conduct.
He will also attend the 13th East Asia Summit (EAS) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit hosted by Singapore as the current Chair of ASEAN grouping.
Some ASEAN members and China have overlapping claims to islands in the sea, one of the world's busiest waterways.
Both US and China committed to supporting peace and stability in the South China Sea, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea in accordance with global law during the dialogue, it added.The US takes no sides in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea but has expressed interest in the peaceful settlement of the rival claims.