US-China trade deal back in doubt
Chile pulled out of hosting two major international summits Wednesday as it struggled to restore order after more than ten days of civil unrest that have left at least 20 dead.
SANTIAGO (AFP) — Chile pulled out of hosting two major international summits on Wednesday as it struggled to restore order after more than ten days of civil unrest that have left at least 20 dead.
President Sebastian Pinera said “common sense” dictated the decision to withdraw from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and the COP 25 climate change conference.
U.S. President Donald Trump had said he was planning to meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to lock down a “phase one” agreement at the Nov. 16-17 APEC meeting that would partially have ended an 18-month trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
The White House said it looked forward to finalizing an agreement “within the same timeframe,” although analysts Eurasia Group said that may not happen until the end of the year.
“Negotiating teams on the Chinese and U.S. sides have continued to maintain close communication, and negotiations are currently making smooth progress,” the Chinese commerce ministry said in a statement Thursday.
APEC said it supported Chile’s decision but gave no indication there would be a replacement summit this year, saying only that Malaysia would host the 2020 event.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin had also been due to attend APEC, while teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was among 25,000 delegates expected for COP 25.
The final of South American football’s premier club competition, the Copa Libertadores, between Argentine holders River Plate and Brazilian giants Flamengo will go ahead on Nov. 23 in Santiago, Chile’s sports ministry said.
After more than 10 days of street protests, Pinera said Chile was not in a position to host either the APEC summit or the Dec. 2-13 climate convention.
The pullout is seen as a blow to Chile’s tourism industry, and the Santiago stock exchange dropped 2.8 points while the peso fell to its lowest rate against the dollar since 2003.
“This has been a very difficult decision, a decision that has been deeply painful because we know exactly how important APEC and COP are for Chile and the world,” said Pinera.
“When a father has problems, he must always prioritize his family over other options. The same goes for a president, he must always put his own compatriots first, ahead of any other considerations,” he added.
Chile is grappling with its worst social crisis in decades, one that shows little sign of abating despite Pinera announcing a raft of measures aimed at placating protesters.
Demonstrators have demanded that the 69-year-old right-wing leader — whose personal fortune is estimated by Forbes at $2.8 billion — step down.
They have been angered by low salaries and pensions, poor public health care and education, and a yawning gap between rich and poor.
Pinera announced last week an increase in the minimum wage and pensions as well as measures to alleviate sky high health care costs and a streamlining of public offices.
On Monday, he reshuffled his cabinet for the third time since coming to power in March 2018, but the street movement continues.
Protests began on Oct. 18 and during the first few days there was widespread destruction, arson and looting. Twenty people died in the violence.
Demonstrations have been largely calm over the last week but there were violent clashes between demonstrators and security services on Monday, when shops were looted and a building set on fire.
Anti-government protesters chant against President Sebastian Pinera in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday.
Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera announces that he is calling off the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Forum (APEC) and Climate Change COP25 Conference, at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Wednesday.