Leaders and their spouses including, from second left, Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, and Chile's President Sebastian Pinera wave during a family photo with leaders and their spouses during the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Picture: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Port Moresby - The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting in Papua New Guinea concluded without a joint communique because of trade disagreements, especially between the United States and China, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said on Sunday.

O'Neill said he will instead release "a statement of consensus by the APEC leaders that I am authorized to release." 

Representatives from 21 countries from the Pacific Rim, where about half of the world's population live, met in Port Moresby for the meeting that started on Saturday. 

The inability to agree on the final communique was due to "the two big giants in the room," O'Neill said, referring to the United States and China - the two countries that have dominated the APEC summit agenda with their trade dispute and scathing war of words.

O'Neill said the countries could not agree on the reforms to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"APEC has got no charter over WTO. That is a fact. That matters can be raised at the WTO session," he said, but did not elaborate what reforms the countries could not agree on. 

Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the members had differing views on trade issues, also blaming the US and China among those responsible for the failure to reach a consensus. 

O'Neill tried to downplay the summit's uneventful conclusion. 

"We have almost 21 economies agreed to all the issues we have discussed and it's not frustrating," O'Neill said, adding the leaders had "fruitful discussions and exchanged frank views" while recognizing "growing tensions between the trading countries." 

Even before it started, China's influence could be felt at the gathering, with President Xi Jinping doing media rounds in Port Moresby, where large images of him are displayed on billboards. 

The two countries exchanged barbs as the summit started Saturday. 

Jinping warned that protectionism was hampering global growth and that any kind of confrontation will lead to no winner, while US Vice President Mike Pence attacked China's "unfair trade practices" and debt-ridden infrastructure loans. 

"Of course, the entire world is concerned about the trade relationship between China and the United States. This is a situation both countries need to sit down and resolve," O'Neill told reporters Sunday after the end of the summit.  

He said the G20 meeting in Argentina later this month "will be an opportune moment for them to sit down and resolve their issues."

Earlier, the US and its regional allies - Australian, Japan, and New Zealand - announced infrastructure investment in the region in a clear push against China's growing influence in the Pacific region where it has been pumping billions of dollars in aid and loans for Infrastructure projects. 

The infrastructure projects by the US and allies are an attempt to compete with Beijing's Belt and Road initiative, which aims to create a transcontinental trade and infrastructure network.

The four countries also announced a massive power project in Papua New Guinea that will see more than 70 per cent of the country get connected to the electricity grid from 13 per cent currently. 

Earlier on Saturday, the US had said it will build a new military base in Papau New Guinea's Manus Island along with Australia. 

"The United States is here to stay. There is no place in this region for Empire or aggression," Pence told reporters before leaving Port Moresby.

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped the summit in Papua New Guinea, the poorest of the APEC countries, which was hosting an event of this magnitude for the first time. 

O'Neill said the summit has given local people hope that they can participate more in the region.

"Hoping in the sense that they are part of a global community, and particularly the Asia-Pacific region," O'Neill said. 

The next summit will take place in 2019 in Chile.