Santiago consumed with managing domestic unrest . . .
Chile, the host of next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, has cancelled the meeting amidst the largest riots and protests over economic inequality the country has faced since the 1980s. The news has caught U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration off guard as Trump was expected to sign a preliminary trade agreement at the summit with China’s President Xi Jinping in a step toward easing tensions between the two countries. Chile’s move leaves questions about next steps for a potential U.S.-China trade agreement.
Chile backs out of another important intergovernmental meeting this year . . .
Singapore-headquartered APEC is a forum made up of 21 Pacific Rim member economies, including Canada, that supports sustainable economic growth in the Asia Pacific by promoting free trade, and regional economic integration and co-operation. Next month’s forum was supposed to focus on the digital economy, regional connectivity, and women's roles in economic growth. Chile has also cancelled the December COP25 climate summit, which it was supposed to host. This comes as a new report (see story above) shows that the number of people impacted by rising sea-levels – especially in Asia – is at least three times the previous estimate.
Where Canada stands . . .
Beyond benefiting from a potential warming of relations between the U.S. and China, Canada may have been planning to keep a low profile during the now-cancelled APEC meeting. Following this month’s federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minority government may be more focused on domestic issues, such as forming a new cabinet. If Canada wants to be taken seriously in the region it will need to work at ensuring it has a stronger and more consistent presence and engage with multilateral organizations in the Asia Pacific.