from the el-pueblo-unido dept
Last year, the US government was adamant that TPP would be finished by the end of 2013. And yet here we are, well into 2014, with no sign that things are anywhere near completion. That slippage is more than just embarrassing: it could have major implications for the treaty. TPP has dragged on for so long there's a new President in Chile, Michelle Bachelet, and she's more doubtful than her predecessor about the value of TPP to her country and its people.
Those doubts are starting to make themselves felt. In a recent speech (original in Spanish), Bachelet said that she wanted Chile to regain its role as a promoter of Latin American integration. That would represent a turning away from TPP, which is based on the Pacific Rim, and only includes two
three other countries from Latin America -- Mexico , Colombia and Peru. In an interview with El Mercurio, Bachelet's new Minister for External Relations, Heraldo Muñoz, echoed this policy shift by emphasizing the importance of improving his country's relations with Brazil and Argentina. He also revealed some of Chile's new thinking on TPP (original in Spanish):
"In my meeting with [USTR] Michael Froman, I expressed Chile's position, which is to examine the content of the [TPP] negotiations with care, and to act transparently. We are going to consult with businesses, with civil society, so that these aren't closed negotiations. In addition, I said to Froman that Chile has sensitive areas where we are not prepared to go beyond the FTA [free trade agreement] with the US. There are areas such as intellectual property, the regulation of state-owned companies, or the Central Bank, which are red lines for us."
The theme of transparency was picked up in another interview, this time with the new director of Chile's Department of International Economic Relations, Andrés Rebolledo, which appeared in La Segunda (original in Spanish):
"We received some criticism (for how the [TPP] negotiations were conducted previously) and it appeared to us that there's an important opening for creating greater transparency with the various stakeholders who are involved and who are interested in the negotiations."
Rebolledo aims to do this by creating a new advisory group, which will include not just business interests, but also NGOs and other civil society groups:
We will establish a dialog with them and we are going to hand over elements of the negotiations -- those which are on the table, and of interest.
For TPP, whose negotiations have been some of the most secretive ever, with almost no real transparency, the plans of Chile's new President are not just a breath of fresh air, they are little short of revolutionary.
For us, as the government, it's beneficial from the perspective that we will obtain inputs that will help us better conduct the negotiations.