December 6, 2023

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What should like-minded countries and Australia and New Zealand do?

What should like-minded countries and Australia and New Zealand do?

In the last five years in Chile and its foreign policy, there has been talk of “like-minded” countries (I say “come” because in the current government this priority has disappeared or at least is at a secondary level) , understanding those who share the same principles, values ​​and interests. They are usually small or medium-sized countries, considering their population, with full democracy, often located on the periphery of economic power centers, but still achieving high levels of development and well-being.

These countries share principles, values ​​and interests in common ideas about similar goals, such as the rule of law and societies, which allow them to have visions and establish common objectives in the search for solutions to major global challenges, which greatly help. Consensus construction. This perspective on the foreign policy of nations should not be confused with the situational relationship a particular government may have with others. The logic of like-minded states essentially points to government policy that is the result of prior internal consensus, political and social, which is reflected in their foreign policies, rather than changes in government in substance.

During the government of Ricardo Lagos, the term was discussed in matters related to foreign policy and the economy, but the concept was consolidated and incorporated into the axis of Chile’s foreign policy during the first term of Michel Bachelet, with Alejandro Foxley as his chancellor. He, as an economist, had a special interest in gathering the experience of these countries to get out of the famous “middle income trap” and, therefore, established special relations with them to advance this cause.

At that time, the focus was on Australia, South Korea, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand and Portugal.

With the arrival of the current government in Chile, time and priority have disappeared. In that end, the ideological factor prevailed – a leftist and statist view over the countries reviewed, many of them social democracies – related to the realignment of political and economic focus in our region of Latin America. But deep down, there is a clear loss of internal consensus as a country on what we want to achieve in terms of political structure and development. This lack of consensus, stretching back to Bachelet’s first government, explains, among other things, the constitutional quagmire we are in, in addition to foreign policy, whose elements of continuity have diminished.

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If our society does not share a common vision, it will be difficult to formulate a state foreign policy, and we will be unable to coordinate with a group of so-called “like-minded” countries. Therefore, it is urgent to reframe a common sense of purpose and how we perceive ourselves in the world. As we continue in a circular debate with consequent uncertainty and degradation, the perception of like-minded nations is eroding, and we are, unfortunately, less and less so, at least as far as our claim to membership in that circle is concerned. Share with them.

Beyond what the issue is and how it has shaped our foreign policy, the two countries should be followed closely because both are in the South Pacific and have similar production structures to ours (proportionally) and trade very closely. In addition to China’s strategic interest in the Indo-Pacific region. These are Australia and New Zealand.

For Australia, after 10 years of Conservative government, Anthony Albanese, Labor (Social Democratic Party), took over as Prime Minister in May last year. Over the past decade, Australia has strengthened its alliance with the United States, which has meant greater friction with China, its number one trading partner. In this move and after the Australian government’s decision to block a 5G deal with Huawei and questioning the Chinese government about the origins of COVID, China imposed tough trade restrictions on some sectors of Australian exports. materialsThe country was able to cope well with this issue as China could not do without other products such as minerals such as cattle and wine, with the consequent losses for producers in these areas.

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After the tussle between the previous Morrison government and Xi, which made it clear that a medium-sized country like Australia (among the “like-minded” countries) is willing to confront China on some issues and face the consequences, Albanese’s visit has brought fresh air to the relationship. Not in the sense of changing its alignment with the US or changing its perception of strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific, but rather in the sense of trying to rebuild relations for the benefit of both.

After 7 years without an Australian Prime Minister visiting China, Albanese made a state visit to the country this weekend. In a gesture of goodwill, Chinese authorities released Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist who had been imprisoned for three years on espionage charges.

It remains to be seen whether the visit will result in more fluid communication between the parties, thereby moderating the effects of impending differences. Despite this, Albanese stressed that there was no strategic alignment between the parties ahead of the trip.

Australia has always been an influential player in the wider region of the South Pacific and particularly island nations, but in the face of China’s growing influence, Australian governments have raised this priority, including increasing budget allocations for military and defense matters. Cooperation.

As for New Zealand, it also shares a heavy dependence on trade with Australia and China with us. Unlike Australia, its greater distance from Asian countries reduces the security dimension urgently. That is why New Zealand has sought to maintain a middle ground in the competition between the US and China, with relative success so far, although pressures to align with Australia and the US are increasingly strong.

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The country held general elections on October 14 and the Labor Party was ousted after 6 years of government. No party has an absolute majority in the 122-seat Parliament. The centre-right National Party, with 48 seats, will form a coalition with the right-wing ACT New Zealand (11 seats) and the populist New Zealand First (8 seats). Negotiations are currently underway to form a government between these groups. If it succeeds, the country will embark on a new political course with a foreign policy aligned with the United States.

Given its high similarities with New Zealand, Chile should pay close attention to the country’s direction, particularly in how it seeks to diversify its trade and exchange with China.

Along these lines, greater integration would be interesting to reap the best benefits of the CPTPP.

Finally, if Chile wants to deepen its economic relations with Australia and New Zealand and ASEAN, which is becoming a powerful regional manufacturing hub, it would be desirable to resume the invitation we received in 2021 to join the AANFTZA or the ASEAN + Free Trade Agreement. 2, which unites the Oceanic peoples with the Asiatic group. At least this way we can recover part of the axis of the “like-minded” strategy.

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