China, Japan, South Korea to Attend Post-TPP Summit

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By Tom Azzopardi

Eleven countries, including China, Japan and South Korea, so far have confirmed they will attend a summit next month in Chile to discuss opportunities to develop tighter trade relations across the Pacific since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Chile’s Foreign Affairs Ministry told Bloomberg BNA in a Feb. 20 e-mail that Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia and Singapore are also expected to participate in the meeting, officially titled “High Level Dialogue on Integration Initiatives in the Asia-Pacific: Challenges and Opportunities.”

The summit will take place March 14-15 in the beach resort of Vina del Mar. The meeting aims to give new impetus to the cause of trade in the region, but it also will consider some of the misgivings that people worldwide feel about the disruption caused by globalization in recent decades, the ministry told Bloomberg BNA.

“The meeting will seek to reaffirm the commitment to free trade and the processes of economic integration as well as reflect on aspects of globalization which have generated inequality,” the ministry said.

The summit has been called by the Pacific Alliance, a group formed in 2012 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru to form ties with economies in East Asia. Chile currently holds the rotating presidency of the bloc. Colombia is the only member of the alliance that didn’t participate in the TPP talks.

The ministry said invitations had been sent to the ministers of foreign affairs and trade from the Pacific Alliance, the signatory countries of the TPP, as well as China and South Korea “as significant players in international trade in the Asia Pacific region.”

China was excluded from the TPP talks. Former President Barack Obama had made the TPP the cornerstone of his pivot toward Asia and part of his administration’s efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the region. However, days after taking office, President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement, which he called a job-killer and bad for the American economy.

Full Agenda

The two-day conference will include a meeting between ministers from the Pacific Alliance, a day involving the authorities from the TPP signatory countries and a high-level ministerial meeting involving all the countries in attendance.

The conversations are expected to consider how to push greater regional integration, taking as their foundation existing models such as the Pacific Alliance, the TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (being negotiated between the 10-member Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea).

As well as lowering import tariffs, ministers attending also will discuss how to include other issues, such as the environment, labor standards, transparency, non-tariff barriers, anti-corruption, competition policies and female participation in international trade, into any eventual trade agreement.

“This dialogue will allow us to tackle with creativity, dynamism and conviction the challenges we face,” the ministry said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Azzopardi in Santiago at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bna.com

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