Yesterday U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chilean counterpart, Sebastian Piñera, met at the White House to discuss economic development, trade and their commitment to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a free trade agreement being negotiated among 11 Pacific Rim countries. This was President Piñera’s first official visit to the White House.
Both heads of state were hopeful that the trade agreement would be finalized prior to the October Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Indonesia. Issues have yet to be resolved in areas such as labor, the environment and intellectual property, but negotiations are accelerating.
TPP negotiations are being held among Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. All 11 countries are also members of APEC, and have a combined GDP of $21 trillion, about 30 percent of global GDP. Japan has also been invited to join the group.
The U.S. and Chile already have strong trade ties. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. had a surplus of $9.4 billion in its trade in goods with Chile last year, an increase of 36 percent from 2011. Chile has trade deals with 62 countries and its economy is projected to expand by 4.9 percent this year, the second fastest pace in Latin America after Peru.
TPP talks will also be on the agenda when Peruvian President Ollanta Humala visits the White House on June 11. Beyond TPP, the two leaders are expected to discuss cooperation on education, energy and climate change, science and technology, and the bilateral trade relationship.