Obama and Piñera in the White House renew push for a trans-Pacific trade agreement
US President Barack Obama and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera renewed their push for a trans-Pacific trade agreement at a meeting in the White House Oval Office on Tuesday that also touched on education and renewable energy.
Chile is “fully committed” to negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership and creating the world’s largest free-trade zone, Piñera said. Close economic ties with the U.S. benefit Chile. “We are very optimistic that the U.S. economy’s picking up,” he said, calling it good “for the whole world.”
“Chile has been on a remarkable growth trajectory,” Obama told reporters after the meeting, which included discussions of a visa-waiver program.
Obama praised the ‘extraordinarily strong’ bilateral relation with Chile and stated that the country has become “a leader in the continent and in the world” with a clear “commitment to democracy and human rights”.
Vice President Joe Biden also attended the private session, which took place as the U.S., Chile and nine other nations are negotiating the Pacific trade agreement. The governments in the talks invited Japan in April to join.
If Japan decides to participate, “that will have an impact on timing” for a deal, Piñera said today after a luncheon speech at the National Press Club in Washington. “It will take some more time, but I think it’s worthwhile” to include Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, he said.
The TPP nations aim to reach agreement by the end of the year, Piñera said. The parties are still trying to resolve differences on issues including intellectual property and labor and environmental standards, he said, without elaborating.
Chile has a free-trade agreement with the U.S. It’s also a member of a regional trading bloc, known as the Pacific Alliance, with Colombia, Mexico and Peru. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would create a trading region with about 26.4 trillion dollars in annual economic output with Japan’s inclusion.
The TPP group includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. China also may consider joining, according to its Ministry of Commerce. The U.S. is seeking broad participation from economies in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Obama is set to meet with Peru’s President Ollanta Humala on June 11.
The U.S. last year had a surplus of 9.4 billion dollars in trade in goods with Chile, a 36% increase from 2011, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.
Chile exported 9.4 billion in goods to the U.S. last year and since the free-trade agreement with the U.S. went into effect in 2004, trade increased 153% during the period.
Piñera previous to the US visited Canada, multilateral organizations in Washington and on Tuesday left for El Salvador and Panama the last leg of his trip.