Chile formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) multilateral trade alliance this week, after a decree signed by President Gabriel Boric was published in the country’s official gazette on Tuesday.
Chile now joins Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, and Brunei in a trade alliance that eliminates tariffs and agrees to rules on intellectual property, sanitary standards, state-owned companies, and more.
Together, those countries make up 12 percent of global GDP and a market of 500 million people, though both totals would be much larger had former U.S. President Donald Trump not pulled his country out of the agreement shortly after taking office.
A Chilean representative participated in a TPP-11 meeting this week for the first time, hosted by New Zealand.
Among the sectors hoping to benefit from the agreement are agricultural exporters, as tariffs and restrictions from the remaining signatories will be phased out on Chilean products including cheese, powdered milk, poultry, beef, honey, oranges, and more.
But the agreement comes at a cost for Mr. Boric, who was a critic of the partnership during his time as a lawmaker. Others in his coalition, such as Finance Minister Mario Marcel, are supporters of the proposal, which the president approved as a concession to the center following his defeat in last year’s constitutional referendum.
In an effort to placate those in his coalition who are critical of the deal, Mr. Boric vowed to discuss a key component of the agreement that forces signatories to submit to international arbitration tribunals in the event of disputes between the sides, a clause that raised fears about costly lawsuits against the country.
To get around this, Chile’s foreign office has been negotiating individual “side letters” with signatory countries in order to establish alternative dispute settlement mechanisms. Bilateral deals with New Zealand, Mexico, and Malaysia have already been agreed upon, while Chile is also in conversations with Canada and Australia.