Bachelet Weighs in on Brexit Debate, Urging U.K. to Stay in EU

  • Leader seeking support in modernizing Chile’s EU trade accord
  • Presidential remarks follow similar calls by Obama, Abe

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet weighed in on the Brexit debate, making a veiled comment in support of continued U.K. membership in the European Union.

Chile would like to count on British support in pushing for a modernization of the Latin American nation’s trade agreement with the 28-member EU later in the year, Bachelet said late Thursday, delivering the annual Canning Lecture for Canning House, a U.K. nonprofit that promotes ties between Britain and Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

“I shouldn’t get into internal domestic affairs, but it would be great if we can count with U.K. support in the EU so that we can approve this modernization of our trade agreement,” Bachelet said. “So we hope to count on your support for the launching of negotiations at the end of the year.”

The intervention by the Chilean president is the latest by a foreign leader in support of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s push for Britons to choose to remain in the EU in a June 23 referendum. U.S. President Barack Obama last month said a post-Brexit Britain would be at the “back of the queue” when it comes to negotiating a trade deal with his country, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a week ago said Britain would be “less attractive” to Japanese investors if it leaves the world’s largest trading bloc.

Speaking about a different trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership that was reached in February by Chile, the U.S., Japan and other nations bordering the Pacific Ocean, Bachelet said the Chilean government hopes to put it to Congress for approval “during probably the second semester of this year.”

“We are aware that there probably will be opposition, but we are convinced that the benefits of this agreement outweigh the costs,” she said. “We are certain that this agreement will be the blueprint for all future trade agreements.”

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