El Comercio Editorial: FTA with China has no set deadline

Excerpted editorial from today’s El Comercio newspaper:

The fourth round of negotiations between Chinese and Peruvian representatives to reach a free trade agreement (FTA) has been very arduous. This is mainly due to the fact that China has hardened its position concerning very sensitive issues for Peruvians, though commitments had previously been made by both parties.

This Chinese backtracking necessarily obliges our authorities to redefine the future negotiation strategy. It must be guided by eminently technical criteria that will benefit national interest without making any unnecessary concessions simply because of the “straight jacket” deadline and desire to sign the treaty during the next meeting of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum) in Lima this November.

The Chinese negotiators are now not only petitioning for a 10-year period to eliminate tariffs on fish meal, but they are also putting restrictions on the import of other products considered key for Peruvian exporters, such as asparagus.

Also, the Chinese have rejected Peru’s proposal to exclude 10 percent of the total of registered tariffs from the negotiation, for example on textiles, shoes and metal-made mechanical products that Peru considers sensitive, and insists that the percentage be reduced to 8 percent.

In view of this situation, the Peruvian response must be firm and coherent, as it was recently with the Peru-U.S. FTA. And if we can’t demand that the Chinese regime broaden the margins of liberty for its citizens, well, we can at least request that they honor their word for issues such as working conditions and environmental protection, as is the norm.

China is the second biggest destination for Peruvian exports. Today, an ample middle class with greater purchasing power makes for an extremely attractive market. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that we should give in on everything. As it is a fundamental principle in a treaty, we must search for equity and defend our interests, without pressure or having anything imposed upon us.

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