Chilean President Sebastián Piñera leaves today on a seven day trip to Japan to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings being held on November 13 and 14 in Yokohama. He will then travel to Beijing on his first official state visit to China. The President will stay through the 40th anniversary of Chinese-Chilean bi-lateral relations on November 17.
This year’s APEC meetings will continue to work on establishing a regional free-trade zone, envisioned to encompass all of Asia despite on going disputes regarding foreign exchange and monetary policies. President Piñera’s participation will be focused around Chile’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) protocol, currently including Brunei, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, the United States, and Chile, which reduces tariffs for trade between APEC countries and the other non-Asian participants. Malaysia has recently joined TPP, and much speculation is on Japan and South Korea to follow suit.
Piñera’s itinerary will include meetings with local officials in Tokyo on Monday before departing to China where he is scheduled to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Chairman of the National Assembly Wu Bangguo. The President returns to Santiago, Chile, on November 18.
From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Mockus, Santos in a Tight Race ahead of Colombian Elections
Campaigning for Colombia’s presidential elections closed on May 23, a week before Colombians head to the voting booths. Recent polls show the two frontrunners—Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus and U Party candidate Juan Manuel Santos—in a close race, with neither pulling in more than 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a June runoff election. According to an Invamer Gallup poll released on May 24, 37.5 percent of voters would pick Santos, compared to 35.4 percent who would pick Mockus. Should the election go to a second round, the poll shows that Mockus would pull in 48.5 percent compared to 43 percent for Santos.
Commander of Colombian Armed Forces Resigns
General Freddy Padilla, commander of Colombia’s Armed Forces, submitted his resignation to President Álvaro Uribe last week after 40 years of service in the country’s army. Although Padilla has been credited with striking heavy blows to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, his term has also been marked by controversy due to incidents such as the “false positives” scandal. Uribe accepted Padilla’s resignation on May 24. Padilla requested to stay in his post until August 7, when Uribe’s presidential term comes to an end.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, arrived in Madrid yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s European Union-Latin America and Caribbean summit, and has already announced agreements to strengthen Chile-EU ties and to host the 2012 summit in Chile.
Mr. Piñera, who took office earlier this year in the wake of Chile’s devastating February earthquake, thanked European leaders for their support during the rebuilding process and declared his trip so far, “a success in the realms of politics, economics and bilateral cooperation.” The EU-LAC summit will be attended by representatives from over 50 countries and is intended to "pave the way for a new era in relations between the European Union and Latin America."
In another development in Madrid, Piñera reportedly held bilateral talks with his Peruvian counterpart, President Alan García, and the two leaders have apparently agreed to "revitalize" their bilateral relationship, which has been strained for decades due to a maritime border dispute.