Upcoming Trade Summit Chance to Start Dialogue, Peru Says

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By Lucien O. Chauvin

Peru sees an upcoming meeting of countries in the Asia-Pacific region as an opportunity to begin talking about the new international context for trade relations.

Peruvian Trade and Tourism Minister Eduardo Ferreyros told foreign reporters Feb. 24 that the meeting called by Chile would be a space for discussion, not decisions. Chile has invited 14 other countries, including the U.S., to the March 14-15 meeting.

“Chile has taken the initiative to call a meeting to analyze new scenarios. It will be an opportunity to exchange ideas on the new international trade context,” said Ferreyros.

Chile has invited the 12 countries that signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a year ago, as well as China and South Korea from Asia. Colombia, which is a member of the Pacific Alliance, together with Chile, Mexico and Peru, has also been invited.

Ferreyros said he doesn’t expect TPP members that attend the meeting to make a formal statement on the agreement. It will be the first time TPP countries will gather since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. signature from the agreement in January. “We need to remain calm and talk. There is no rush. The TPP was not coming on line until June 2018,” he said.

The TPP signatories included Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam.

Waiting on U.S. Trade Team

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski met with Trump in Washington Feb. 24. He is the first Latin American leader to meet Trump and the third head of state of a TPP country, after the Canadian and Japanese prime ministers, to meet the U.S. president.

Ferreyros said it is too early to judge Trump’s trade agenda, and that it is important to wait until the trade team, including Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary and Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative, is confirmed. The U.S. Senate will vote on Ross’s confirmation Monday, Feb. 27. A hearing on Lighthizer’s nomination has yet to be scheduled by the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade issues.

The minister also rejected the idea that China could step in and replace the U.S. within the TPP.

Ferreyros, however, does see a chance at the Chile meeting for the four Pacific Alliance countries to take a more ambitious approach in beefing up ties with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “The original idea in the Pacific Alliance was to negotiate as a bloc with other trading associations and ASEAN, which has economically dynamic countries like our own, would be a good start,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucien O. Chauvin in Lima, Peru, at correspondents@bna.com

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

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