WTO: Chile President Bachelet vows to protect Asia-Pacific trade

GENEVA – Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has vowed to continue the fight for protection and boost of trade between Asian and Latin American countries.

“Regional integration is crucial … this is not an option. It is an absolute necessity,” said Bachelet, while addressing a special session of the World Trade Organization in Geneva on Wednesday.

Her remarks come amid efforts to compensate for the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). US President Donald Trump decided in January to pull the US out of the pact, making the highly-touted agreement effectively defunct. Washington has even warned that it could ignore the WTO decisions, as it was promoted by Trump during his presidential campaign.

Bachelet, who did not specifically mention the US and Trump, said “protectionist trade policies in some countries” would not deter efforts to boost Asia-Pacific trade.

“We are at an inflection point”, Bachelet told the WTO, adding that Chile hosted a meeting earlier this month involving 11 countries that had been part of the TPP in a bid to revive some of the gains made during the deal’s negotiations.

During the meeting, officials said they could engineer a new pact with China replacing the US as the major power in the deal.