Chile's President Michelle Bachelet vows to protect Asia-Pacific trade

March 29, 2017 9:30 pm

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet addresses a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on March 29, 2017 at the UN Offices in Geneva, Switzerland. (AFP photo)

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has vowed to continue the fight for protection and boost of trade between Asian and Latin American countries.
Bachelet, who was addressing a special session of the World Trade Organization in Geneva on Wednesday, said, “Regional integration is crucial … this is not an option. It is an absolute necessity.”
Her remarks come amid efforts to compensate for the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). US President Donald Trump decided in January to pull the US out of the pact, making the highly-touted agreement effectively defunct. Washington has even warned that it could ignore the WTO decisions, as it was promoted by Trump during his presidential campaign.
Bachelet, who did not specifically mention the US and Trump, said “protectionist trade policies in some countries” would not deter efforts to boost Asia-Pacific trade.
“We are at an inflection point”, Bachelet told the WTO, adding that Chile hosted a meeting earlier this month involving 11 countries that had been part of the TPP in a bid to revive some of the gains made during the deal’s negotiations. During the meeting, officials said they could engineer a new pact with China replacing the US as the major power in the deal.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet (R) shakes hands with Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Brazilian Roberto Azevedo upon her arrival in Geneva to address the trade organization on March 29, 2017. (AFP photo)The former US administration had hoped that TPP could slash tariffs and tighten trade ties between the countries that account for some 40 percent of the world economy. The deal was regarded as a major deterrent against China and its rising economic influence.
Bachelet said that Chile and allies in Latin America “will offer an alternative platform for promoting trade liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region”, adding that those countries would do their utmost to “strengthen the very principles of multilateralism.”

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