Chile cancels APEC trade summit and major climate gathering after riots

(Reuters News, 31 Oct 2019) The United Nations is urgently seeking a new venue for the annual climate conference, but says it may need to be delayed.

Chile withdrew on Wednesday as the host of an APEC summit next month at which the United States and China had been expected to sign a deal to ease a trade war that has hurt the global economy, as raging street protests gripped the South American country.

The abrupt move - which came after weeks of riots over inequality in Chile that have left at least 18 people dead - plunged the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting into disarray, with participating countries caught off-guard and no alternative venue lined up.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, fighting for his political survival, said he had taken the "painful" decision to cancel the summit, as well as the high-profile COP25 international gathering on climate change in December, to focus on restoring law and order and pushing through a new social plan.

"As president to all Chileans I must always put the problems and interests of Chileans, their needs, their desires and their hopes, first," he said in a brief statement at the La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago.

The APEC summit was scheduled to bring together 20 world leaders on Nov. 16-17. U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had been due to sign an interim agreement to end the 15-month-old trade war.

The cancellation might deny the two leaders a chance to meet on neutral soil soon but the Trump administration said it still expects to sign the deal with China next month. A White House official told Reuters that Chile's cancellation of the trade summit had caught the administration by surprise.

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Reuters News, 31 Oct 2019: Chile cancels APEC trade summit and major climate gathering after riots