Chile is dropping plans to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade summit as it struggles with riots and mass protests over economic inequality.
Chilean President Sebastian Piñera announced Wednesday that his country would not host the forum, which was scheduled to take place mid-November in Santiago. The country also has opted out of hosting the COP25 climate summit in December.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Piñera Tuesday, but a readout of the call did not mention the APEC summit.
It said Piñera called to offer Trudeau congratulations on his re-election.
“The Prime Minister and the President exchanged views on key regional issues, including the importance of addressing people’s concerns around economic opportunity and inequalities,” says a readout from the PMO.
“Prime Minister Trudeau also shared his concern about election irregularities in Bolivia. They welcomed the collaboration between Canada and Chile on a range of shared priorities, including efforts to address the crisis in Venezuela.”
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing cooperation, the readout says.
Cancellation catches Washington off-guard
It’s not clear if Piñera gave Trudeau a heads-up, but according to Reuters, the cancellation caught the White House by surprise.
A White House official told the news agency that Washington learned about the decision from news reports and is seeking more information.
Bloomberg News reported that U.S. President Donald Trump was expected to sign a preliminary trade accord with Chinese President Xi Jinping at at the Nov. 16-17 APEC summit; his administration describes it as a “phase one” deal.
Protesters in Chile have been making demands for better pay, pensions, schools, housing and medical care. While most demonstrations have been peaceful, some have led to deadly riots and looting.
Piñera responded by pulling back a planned fare increase for subways and boosting pensions and the minimum wage.