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The new trade agreement between Chile and the EU must be stopped

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America Latina Mejor sin TLC | 12 December 2022

The new trade agreement between Chile and the EU must be stopped

Joint statement by the Platform "Chile without Free Trade Agreements" network, MPs and social organizations

In view of the forthcoming signing of the «modernization» of the Association Agreement between Chile and the European Union by the governments of Chile and the EU, we note the following.

After lengthy negotiations behind closed doors, parliaments will again have to approve or reject an agreement about which the people and their political representatives in parliaments and congresses have not been informed. In the Chilean case, the information about the agreement comes only from the press linked to the major interest groups, and in the European case, the information has turned out to be insufficient. We will only know exactly what has been negotiated after it has been signed.

1. What is clear, however, is that in the midst of a global environmental and energy crisis, Chile and the EU want to sign an agreement with weak climate provisions that will lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, contradicting the Paris Agreement commitments and the COP 27 warnings.

2. The agreement will encourage EU exports of manufactured goods to Chile. In Chile, increasing exports in the agricultural and mining sectors will perpetuate current patterns of trade imbalance and dependency. The water crisis and other problems that are severely affecting the quality of life in the affected areas will worsen, further deteriorating ecosystems and human health. The precautionary principle enshrined in the treaty does not apply to pesticide regulations. As a result, the harmful effects of imported pesticides on the health of women and vulnerable populations will remain. The clauses or chapters on environmental protection, labor standards and gender equality are not binding, nor is the part on human rights. This is not surprising given that much of the 2019-2020 negotiations were taken over by the Sebastián Piñera government, responsible for systematic human rights abuses during the years of the «revuelta popular» (popular uprising).

3. The chapter on regulatory practices gives European investors the opportunity to get involved in political decision-making in Chile, as regulators are required to involve «stakeholders» in decisions about actions that could affect their operations. According to the investment protection chapter of the agreement, if the state regulatory measures are not in the interests of companies, they could lead to investor-state arbitration (ISDS).

4. Regarding public procurement, large EU companies are more likely to enter the Chilean public procurement market than vice versa. Unfair competition between small companies or SMEs and international companies results in the local competitor being squeezed out of the market. The «modernized» agreement aims to expand the list of sectors open to foreign investors (currently not including the Chilean state-owned CODELCO, among others).

5. In the area of e-commerce, the clause on the free movement of data is added, i.e. the contracting parties may not regulate the storage, processing or access to a company’s data. This can lead to problems for the countries, e.g. related to sovereignty, public order and security. The agreement stipulates that no country can require another country to have access to a company’s source code and the associated algorithm. However, this contradicts the European standard on artificial intelligence. This point is of central and political importance. Because algorithms interact with people and have a significant impact on social life. Algorithms must be able to be checked, among other things, to protect against discrimination and fake news.

6. The chapter on investment protection is a violation of state sovereignty. The reformed Investor-State Arbitration Mechanism (ICS, Investment Court System) still allows the use of the same clauses known from the ISDS system, including the fair and just treatment and indirect expropriation. These rules, which already apply to the 18 bilateral investment agreements between Chile and EU member states, are extended to nine additional EU member states with the agreement. ICS remains an exclusive parallel jurisdiction, accessible only to investors, not to Member States, nor to communities affected by water loss or species extinction.

7. Finally, the chapter on energy and raw materials contains clauses which are of concern in the case of Chile. This chapter guarantees European access to energy resources such as lithium, copper and renewable fuels such as so-called green hydrogen. The chapter also introduces mechanisms that limit the state’s ability to decide how to regulate its natural commons. The agreement is aligned with the interests of the EU to implement its energy transition and increased electric mobility, which requires the import of certain strategically important raw materials. At the same time, the consequences this has for Chile are being ignored. According to the agreement, the trading partners are subject to the principles of transparency and non-discrimination, as well as international market and price rules for sales to the EU. If Chile wants to levy higher taxes on, for example, mining products, introduce subsidies, set its own prices and impose regulations on foreign investment, these measures would be considered (technical) barriers to trade and could result in sanctions. So, with this chapter, the EU is guaranteed that Chile will sell its lithium, among other things, at the same price as a local entrepreneur or a neighboring country, with no royalties or entry restrictions. This also applies to access to (energy) infrastructure, which must be possible without any restrictions or additional payments.

European neocolonialism

This agreement is an expression of a neo-colonial understanding of trade. It advances European interests while ignoring the massive consequences for Chile. For example, for every kilo of hydrogen, 10 liters of demineralized fresh water and energy are consumed on a large scale. The latter stems from the conversion of agricultural land into sites for photovoltaic or wind energy projects, in areas already weakened by the extractivism that has prevailed in recent decades.

All of this is export oriented. In the places where lithium and other minerals are mined, the effects of the intensive exploitation of the salt pans and the environment are already visible. This agreement, which is intended to secure the future of electromobility in the EU and the business of transnational corporations, promotes an obsolete system. The conversion of the European energy system must not be at the expense of the environment, society and the climate in the countries of the Global South. We therefore call for the rejection of the «modernized» EU Association Agreement with Chile.

Trade at eye level means giving priority to life, sustainable production and environmental and climate justice over short-term profit interests.



Chilean organisations

Chile Mejor sin Tratados de Libre Comercio
Comunidad Ecuménica Martin Luther King
Comite ddhh.y ecologicos de Quilpué
Salvemos Olmue
Comité Oscar Romero - Sicsal Chile
Junta de Vecinos Los Dominicos San Felipe
Werken Rojo. Director
Somos Cerro Blanco
Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales OLCA
Quinta interior
Colectiva por la Defensa de la Semilla
Organización de Pajareteros Guasco Alto
EcoWiluz, AgroEcologia y Soberanía Alimentaria
Catemu en Movimiento
Antimafia dos mil
Fundación Nueva Educación y Sociedad, FNES
Movimiento por el Agua y los Territorios MAT
Chile Sin Ecocidio
Red de Acción por los Derechos Ambientales
RAP - Red Autoabastecimiento Peñalolén
Agrupación Cultural Antonio Llidó Mengual
Etica en los Bosques
Coordinadora Autonoma contra la violencia machista
Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos de los Colegios Profesionales
Comisión de DDHH Col de Enfermeras
Escuela Permanente PRAIS
Comunidad Diaguita Campillay Guacalagasta
Coordinación de Territorios por la Defensa de los Glaciares
Comunidad Nacional de Software Libre y Cultura Libre
Comité Ambiental Comunal de la comuna de Paine
Fundación Constituyente XXI
Educando en Movimiento - EDUMOVI
Sol Naciente Comunidad de Emprendedores
Agrupación Ambiental y Cultural Futa Lawal Mapu
Coordinadora Comunal de Olmue
Colectivo cincel
Werken Rojo
Asamblea Territorial Tierra Florida
Corporación Artistas Proecologia
Comisión de DDHH y Memoria Colegio de Antropólog@s
Chile Mejor sin TLC
Red chilena de Cultura Viva Comunitaria
La Campanazo
Asociación Cultural y de las Artes Rukantu Teno
Red de Acción en Plaguicidas de Chile
Coordinadora Sindical del Sector Privado - Roberto Traslaviña
Gaceta Ambiental
Movimiento del Socialismo AllendistaFundacion Batuco Sustentable
Observatorio por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas - Chile
Centro de Estudios Francisco Bilbao
Partido Igualdad
Werken Rojo diario digital
Federación Nacional de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores de Call center, Fetracall
Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores/as NO+AFP
APrus Asoc. Profesionales Universitarios de la Salud - Roxana Guajardo
Asamblea Territorial San Miguel
Coordinadora Trabajadores a honorarios Zona sur
Junta De Vecinos Población Última Hora
Agrupación Cultural Huitral Mapu
Comisión Ética contra la Tortura
Alianza basura cero chile
Ad kimvn
Red de Bibliotecas Populares del Gran Valparaíso
consejo ecologico Comunal de molina
Asamblea Pampa Sur la Serena
Junta de vecinos de loica bajo
Aire Puro
Agrupación de ex Presas y ex presos políticas/OS de Rancagua
Fundación SOL
Asociación cultural y medioambiental La Huella Culiprán
Revista De Frente
Cabildos constituyentes - Leonora Díaz Moreno
Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores No+AFP
Urracas Emaús Chile
Red de abastecimiento popular Los Ríos
Huertos de Teupa
Coordinacion Nacional Familiares de la Memoria Niet@s
Cabildo Reflexión, acción y formación Popular Quinta Normal
Centro Ecoceanos - Juan Carlos Cardenas
Coordinadora Feminista de Peñalolen
Colectivo Verdad, Cultura y Justicia, Región de Coquimbo

International organisations

Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)
Red Internacional de apoyo a los Presos Políticos
La ruka interkultural
Comisión Nacional de Enlace
RMALC (Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio)
Attac Argentina
FDCL Centro Investigación
War on Want
Ecologistas en Acción
Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft e.V. (AbL)Attac Austria
Heidelberger BÃ1⁄4ndnis fÃ1⁄4r gerechten Welthandel
ATTAC Alemania
TROCA- Plataforma por um Comercio Internacional Justo
Via Campesina de Europa
ATTAC Berlin
BUND Ortenau
ATTAC Francia
Anders Handeln Austria
Grain Internacional
Conf, Latinoam. y del Caribe de Trab. Estatales
Coordinadora Ex PP de Chile en Francia
Collectif Stop CETA-MERCOSUR

Political parties and organisations (EU and Chile)

Daniel Jadue
PIE (The Left) - Maite Mola
PCE - José Luis Centella
Partido Igualdad
France Insoumise - Jean Luc Mélenchon
France Insoumise - Christian Rodriguez
Presidenta Partido Comunista de Finlandia - Liisa Taskinen
Esquerra Unida i Alternativa - Ana Blanco
Parttido de la Refundación Comunista -Izquierda Europea
Izquierda Republicana - Fran Pérez
Die Linke - Claudia Haydt
Parlementaires Chiliens :
Marisela Santibáñez Novoa
Ana María Gazmuri Vieira
Camila Musante
Hernán Palma
Viviana Delgado

Members of the European Parliament

Manu Pineda
Enrique Santiago
Fabien Gay
Ana Miranda
Miguel Urban
Pierre Laurent - Vicepresidente del senado
Rodrigo Arenas

 source: America Latina Mejor sin TLC