NEW YORK — Japan and four Latin American countries agreed Wednesday to further promote free trade amid rising concern about protectionism.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and economy ministers and senior officials from the four-nation Pacific Alliance reached the agreement in a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
As part of such efforts, the two sides agreed to step up cooperation in ensuring an early enforcement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-member regional free trade agreement from which President Donald Trump withdrew the United States last year, the ministry said.
Of the four Pacific Alliance members, Mexico, Peru and Chile are members of the pact, now formally called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Colombia has not only been in free trade negotiations with Japan but expressed interest in joining the regional free trade accord.
The four members of the alliance, a forum for economic cooperation, told Kono that they would like to join hands with Japan in strengthening the multilateral global trading system and safeguarding multilateralism, taking aim at Trump’s “America First” policy.
The Pacific Alliance was created in April 2011. Japan has observer status with the group, which it sees as having potential as a supplier of natural resources and foodstuffs.
In a separate meeting, hosted by the European Union in New York, Kono announced about $10 million in aid to support citizens and internally displaced people in Syria, the Japanese ministry said.
The aid through the World Health Organization was intended to provide a stable supply of health and medical services in the war-torn Middle East country.