As of Monday 15 March representatives from eight countries, including Chile, have been meeting in Melbourne, Australia as part of the first round of negotiations for a Transpacific Strategic Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
The alliance was initially signed by Chile, New Zealand, Brunei and Singapore in June 2005 and now the United States, Australia, Vietnam and Peru, all members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), have been added as candidates to join the agreement.
In a press conference Australian Foreign Trade Minister Simon Crean affirmed that this first round of talks, which concludes on Friday, marks a milestone and will open the door to the goal of creating a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific Region.
In this first of four meetings planned for this year, issues like the obstacles that entrepreneurs and emergent sectors in the area face will be discussed, including services, e-commerce and renewable energy, with the intention of reaching an agreement prior to the summit of APEC leaders that has been planned for 2011.
In addition, the representatives of these eight countries will simultaneously work on 16 work tables that will deal with issues like access to industrial-textile markets, access to agricultural markets, rules of origin, facilitation of trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and technical obstacles to trade.
The eight potential members of the TPPA have a total population of 470 million inhabitants and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$ 17.7 trillion.
When asked about the creation of this free trade area, former Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley explained that the measure is aimed at “clinching FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) that converge so we can have a free trade area,” in addition to stressing that the creation of a free trade zone in the transpacific area “will support the idea that the world financial crisis is ending and will mean the creation of thousands of jobs.”
It should be noted that since recovering democracy in 1990, Chile has experienced an economic liberalization that is unparalleled in the world, which has produced financial dividends that have been recognized by important international institutionsand media outlets.
Likewise, at the beginning of the year the country confirmed its admission into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), also known as the club of rich countries. This economic solidity will also allow the country to more swiftly deal with the devastating consequencesof the mega-earthquake that hit the central-southern region last 27 February. In addition, expectations of attaining development by 2018 are also maintained.