APEC brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region - the equivalent of about 60% of the world's GDP. Since taking office, President Trump has pursued his "America First" agenda and pulled the US out of the regional Trans-Pacific Partnership - a major trade deal with 12 APEC nations - arguing it would hurt US economic interests.
In a speech in the Vietnamese port city of Da Nang on Friday the 10th November, President Trump railed against the World Trade Organization, which sets global trade laws, and said it "cannot function properly" if all members do not respect the rules. He complained about trade imbalances, saying the USA had lowered market barriers and ended tariffs while other countries had not reciprocated. "Such practices hurt many people in our country," he said, adding that free trade had cost millions of American jobs. But he did not lay the blame on APEC countries, and instead accused earlier US administrations of not acting earlier to reverse the trend. He said America would make bilateral agreements with "any Indo-Pacific partner here who abides by fair reciprocal trade", but only "on a basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit".
Speaking minutes after his American counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping took to the podium to espouse his country's credentials as the new champion of world trade. Globalization, he said, was an "irreversible historical trend" but the philosophy behind free trade needed to be repurposed to be "more open, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all".
In contrast to President Trump, the Chinese leader defended multilateral trade deals, which he said helped poorer nations to benefit. "We should support the multilateral trading regime and practise open regionalism to allow developing members to benefit more from international trade and investment."
The total trade relationship between the USA and China was worth $648bn last year, but trade was heavily skewed in China's favour with the US amassing a nearly $310bn deficit. Trump has in the past accused China of stealing American jobs and threatened to label it a currency manipulator, though he has since rowed back on such rhetoric.
During the US president's visit, China announced it would further lower entry barriers in the banking, insurance, and finance sectors, and would gradually reduce vehicle tariffs. Deals worth $250bn (£190bn) were also announced, although it was unclear how much of that figure included past agreements or potential future deals.
Before the Beijing talks, Trump in Tokyo lashed out at Japan, saying it "has been winning" on trade in recent decades. Japan had a $69bn (£52.8bn) trade surplus with the US in 2016, according to the US Treasury department.
Trump has repeatedly referred to the region as "Indo-Pacific", a term used to define America's new geopolitical view of Asia.
The US president had travelled to Da Nang from Beijing, where he had also discussed America's huge trade imbalance with China. There too, he said he did not blame the country for "taking advantage".
President Trump was clear - he wants bilateral trade deals and large, multilateral arrangements don't work for him. This was a speech saying that America is open for business, but on America's terms.
Contrast that with China's Xi Jinping, who spoke about the digital economy, quantum science, artificial intelligence - presenting a vision of the future that is connected, and comprehensive.
Increasingly whenever you see Xi on the international stage he is the poster child for free trade and globalization. Ironic, given that China itself has yet to become a fully free economy.
The US was the architect of many of the multilateral and free trade agreements for Asia. Under its tutelage, many of these countries opened up and reformed - playing by America's rules.
But under Donald Trump, that role has gone into reverse which has left China with a gaping hole to fill - and one it is only more than happy to take on.
When the US president is served up soy sauce older than America itself, it makes you wonder what diplomatic messages Asian leaders were hiding in the stock when they fed Donald Trump. Japan's PM Shinzo Abe has made no bones about becoming Trump's best friend and when the pair shared an all-American hamburger lunch made with imported US beef (remember new India hates beef and kill those who eat beef or sell it because beef, according to the latest discovery of Hindutva, is god's flesh), and accompanied by Heinz ketchup and mustard, the messaging was clear.
The US leader reportedly loves well-done steak and hates raw fish, so steak and a chocolate ice-cream sundae at a Tokyo teppanyaki restaurant was one of Trump's first meals. But "Japanese style steak" was reportedly on the menu at the state dinner, as well as chawanmushi (steamed egg) with matsutake mushrooms, and he got a taste of local culture when he ate teriyaki chicken at a traditional Japanese restaurant.
In Seoul, politics was definitely on the table. A cooked prawn that was caught near the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islands claimed by both South Korea and Japan was served up. And among the guests for the state dinner was Lee Yong-soo, a former "comfort woman" or wartime sex slave for Japanese soldiers - a contentious issue between South Korea and Japan. Trump was photographed giving her a warm hug
It might just be worth noting that Trump is not believed to share the same rapport with South Korean President Moon Jae-in as with Abe. Trump also used his dining choices to play politics with a calculated decision to eat with US and South Korean troops at Camp Humphreys, the largest overseas US military base, for "Taco Tuesday".
It's unclear whether Trump took a bite, but Japan was not pleased - a government spokesman later raised concerns about the significance of the prawn at a time when South Korea should unite with Japan to tackle North Korean issues
Beijing may have given Trump a lavish welcome, but dialled down the extravagance when it came to the state banquet, choosing instead to ease Trump into local cuisine with a classic Chinese dish familiar to many Americans - kung pao chicken.
The dish of chicken pieces stir fried with chillies originates from Sichuan province, as does another item on the menu, fish cooked in chilli oil.
Trump is currently on a five-nation Asia tour, with China one of his stops.
Trump also met Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit. The two shook hands and exchanged a few words. Both were in blue shirt - similar or maybe made of the same cloth and maybe stitched by the same tailor.
After the summit, Trump pays a state visit to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, before ending his 12-day Asian tour in the Philippines on 13 November.