Chile's foreign minister: TPP not dead, despite Trump comments

SANTIAGO - Countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact will continue working to bring a deal to fruition despite a pledge by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to withdraw from the accord, Chile's foreign minister said on Tuesday. "Whether it be with the United States or without the United States, there's a willingness among the countries that make up the TPP to move forward," Heraldo Munoz told a news conference ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the South American nation. "Whether it's to be the same framework as the current TPP, that remains to be seen." On Monday, Trump released a video pledging to withdraw from the TPP on his first day in office, calling it "a potential disaster" for the United States.

World leaders have had varying reactions to Trump's comments, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying during a visit to Buenos Aires that U.S. abandonment of the deal would render it "meaningless." The future of the 12-nation deal, which does not include China, was one of the key themes of summit talks between leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies in Lima in recent days.

There is debate over to what extent a U.S.-free TPP might advance without a complete renegotiation. China has been pushing its own alternative trade pact, which excludes the Americas, although it has said other countries including Chile are interested in joining.

The Chinese premier was due to arrive in Santiago on Tuesday, where he will meet with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and speak at the United Nations' Latin American arm, ECLAC.

Munoz said China and Chile plan to sign an agreement to deepen bilateral trade ties during Xi's visit.

In a column in national newspaper El Mercurio published on Tuesday, Xi wrote that Chile and China should work together to facilitate free trade and business ties in areas such as mining, agriculture, infrastructure, telecommunications, clean energy and IT.