ECONOMY NATIONAL

TPP ratification creates political chasm

Despite opposition from civil society organizations, Chile’s Senate ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. Controversy surrounds the treaty, as some claim it will empower multinational corporations, while others highlight easier market access for Chilean firms. President Gabriel Boric has not signed the treaty yet, which is creating more political upheaval. 

Chile’s Senate ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) free trade agreement last week with 27 votes in favor, 10 against and 1 abstention, creating political approval but also principled opposition.

Senator Ricardo Lagos Weber, of the center-left PPD party, applauded the ratification, but members of the Communist Party or social green party FRVS opposed ratification, claiming the treaty would give multinational corporations undue influence in domestic policy and facilitate environmental destruction.

The treaty is sure to give the Chilean president Gabriel Boric a headache, as forces from his own sector are opposing the treaty, while the right-wing, holding a majority in Congress, is urging the executive to sign the treaty as soon as possible.

On the Precipice

A prominent opponent, economist José Gabriel Palma claimed aside from impacting sovereignty, the treaty also mirrors the US legal system. Palma said the treaty is redundant, since Chile already has bilateral agreements with most signatories.

Current signatories include Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Peru.

Opponents also charge that the treaty could create a middle-income trap for countries like Chile, as it would prevent export diversification, meaning countries’ competitive advantage glues them to their current production matrix.

Read also:

Chilean government moves forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Advantages

The US was a key driver of the TPP-11, which was meant to create a Pacific free trade zone to contain China.

Yet, shortly after the election of Donald Trump the US pulled out, and proponents claim the treaty has changed profoundly since then. The second Bachelet administration was a key player to revive the treaty, even without US participation.

Proponents claim it enables easier access to foreign markets, with special focus on digital services. Lagos Weber highlighted that Australia, where the treaty is already in place, has benefited mightily.

While on the campaign trail, candidate Gabriel Boric opposed the treaty. Now in power, his administration negotiates side letters with member countries, ostensibly to smooth out contentious points in the treaty.

Officials said signing could take place this year or the next.

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