President Michelle Bachelet meets Friday with Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet to begin her four-day visit to Hanoi, where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference is taking place.
APEC is an organization of 21 Pacific-Rim states linked by the common purpose of improving economic and political ties among them all. Chile and Peru are the only South American members, and they join with economic heavyweights such as the United States, China, Japan, Australia, and Canada to discuss trade liberalization, economic growth, and regional cooperation at the conference.
The main message emanating from the conference thus far is unified support for reviving the Doha Round trade talks. The Doha Round of negotiations concerning global free trade was stymied when no agreement was reached on how to cut industrialized nations' farm subsidies. The APEC members expressed the need to move forward with those talks, even at the cost of putting a U.S.-proposed regional free trade pact on the backburner.
Also on the agenda are new counterterrorism initiatives, anti-corruption tactics, and trade- liberalization measures.
Bachelet will be keeping to a very busy schedule. On Friday, after visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and having lunch with the Vietnamese President, she will meet with the New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark and Thailand's Prime Minister Surayud Chulanot while participating in the CEO Summit. She will then discuss bilateral trade pacts with China's President Hu Jintao and Japan's Premier Shinzo Abe.
Meetings will also take up most of Bachelet's time on Saturday. She will meet with APEC leaders, business leaders, and a committee on transparency, which will be followed by a dinner for the conference attendees and a meeting with Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
On Sunday, Bachelet continues her heavy schedule by meeting with the Philippines' President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, before heading to New Zealand for an official State visit.
Chile became a member of APEC in 1994, and hosted the conference in November 2004.
In addition to those already mentioned, APEC members include Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to the APEC website, the organization's members account for more than half the world's Gross Domestic Product, more than a third of the world's population, and 41 percent of world trade. The Santiago Times