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Monday, August 26, 2019

Krasna Bobenrieth: The first Chilean to be elected Chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI)

The election of Krasna Bobenrieth as leader of one of APEC’s most important committees was announced in the context of the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3) in Puerto Varas.

For the first time since Chile joined APEC 25 years ago, a Chilean citizen has been named Chair of the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI). Krasna Bobenrieth, an attorney with a degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica, has been chosen for the position. Bobenrieth has over 15 years of experience with matters of trade and investment in Chile’s Foreign Relations Ministry and has served as a Free Trade Agreement negotiator, head of the APEC Department, President of the APEC Group on Services (GOS) and now Content Director for APEC Chile 2019.

Below she outlines the challenges and opportunities that she will have to address as Chair of the entity.

  • What is the importance of the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI)?

The CTI is the heart and driving force of APEC. The focus of the APEC forum is greater regional economic integration and the committee that leads that work is the CTI. As such, the issues that the Committee on Trade and Investment deals with are the ones that are always included on the agendas of the Senior Officials, Trade Ministers, Foreign Relations Ministers and Leaders.

Furthermore, this Committee develops all of the initiatives that have the long-term goal of establishing an agreement for a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). To that end, it works with all of the technical groups that are related to trade liberalization and facilitation. 

  • What is the role of the Chair?

The Chair leads the meetings and is thus the person who decides how the agendas are structured, what issues are addressed first and how much time is given to each discussion. Other responsibilities include organizing meetings and presiding over them.

This also means that the Chair resolves any conflict that may arise during a meeting. The goal is to reach consensus. Each economy has its positions and they need someone to guide them to reach a consensus. 

  • What is the process used to select the Chair? 

First, the election procedure was announced well in advance. Nominations were submitted over a period of nearly two months. The Chilean government submitted my candidacy, and I received a great deal of support at that time including many emails from different economies congratulating me. After that, the candidate must be elected by consensus by all of the forum’s member economies. 

My election therefore demonstrates support for me, but more than anything it is support for Chile, because it is a way of recognizing this country as a driving force for trade liberalization. 

  • What are some of the challenges that you will have to address as Chair of the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI)?

The deadline for the Bogor Goals is 2020, and that is a major APEC objective. I will be Chair during that period. There will have to be a process of identifying the areas we will need to focus on and defining the role that the CTI will play.

One of the main challenges is the effort to achieve more inclusive growth, making the best use of digital tools and determining how we achieve trade liberalization that will also benefit disadvantaged sectors of the population.

I hope that these issues will be included on the Committee’s agenda without leaving aside everything that we have been working on thus far.

  • What do you think will be the impact of having a Chilean Chair of such an important group?

Chile invested in being the APEC host for the second time. This appointment reinforces the fact that everything that has been done this year will not go unnoticed. The fact that we are now taking on the trade agenda means that we will continue to promote the initiatives that are included in our priorities. It also allows us to continue to show that we are an important stakeholder in the Asia-Pacific region.

I also believe that as a woman, issues of inclusion will be very close to my heart, and for the same reason I will work on them with particular interest. This decision also shows how consistent Chile is because we have chosen women, SMEs and inclusive growth as priority issues. The fact that a woman is being supported to take on a leadership role is thus significant.

Krasna Bobenrieth will be the Chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) for two years, for the 2020 and 2021 period.

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