Chile hopes to ex­pand boom in ties with Xi visit

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By AN BAIJIE in Bei­jing

China and Chile will start to ne­go­ti­ate the deep­en­ing of their free-trade agree­ment dur­ing Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s state visit, which starts on Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to Chile’s am­bas­sador to China.

“We hope to ini­ti­ate the ne­go­ti­a­tions for strength­en­ing and deep­en­ing the ex­ist­ing FTA, to in­clude ar­eas that were not in­cluded in the past, like e-com­merce and fi­nan­cial ser­vices,” Am­bas­sador Jorge Heine told China Daily re­cently.

The two coun­tries also plan to up­grade bi­lat­eral ties, hold talks to ex­pand mar­ket ac­cess, and en­hance sci­en­tific and tech­no­log­i­cal co­op­er­a­tion dur­ing Xi’s visit, he said.

The two coun­tries signed an FTA in Novem­ber 2005. Since then, China has be­come Chile’s largest trade part­ner, and Chile is now China’s third-largest trade part­ner in Latin Amer­ica. Bi­lat­eral trade has risen from $8 bil­lion in 2005 to $31 bil­lion in 2015.

“The 2005 FTA is largely an agree­ment to fa­cil­i­tate trad­ing goods, but more and more, ser­vices are cen­ter stage in in­ter­na­tional trade. So we will adapt this FTA to the new en­vi­ron­ment,” Heine said.

They will work to­gether to di­ver­sify their trade, which is weighted to­ward cop­per, he said. Chile is the world’s lead­ing pro­ducer and ex­porter of cop­per and has the world’s largest re­serves at 39 per­cent.

“About 75 per­cent of our $16 bil­lion in ex­ports to China in 2015 was made up of cop­per, so that is sig­nif­i­cant,” he said. “But $4

More and more, ser­vices are cen­ter stage in in­ter­na­tional trade.” Jorge Heine, Chile’s am­bas­sador to China

bil­lion was not cop­per. What we have seen is the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of our ex­port bas­ket to China.”

Chile at­taches great im­por­tance to China’s huge food mar­ket — the na­tion is the sec­ond-largest ex­porter of fresh food to China, af­ter Thai­land, Heine said.

Chile is the third-largest ex­porter of wine and the sev­enth-largest ex­porter of ma­rine prod­ucts to China. Last year, Chile also ex­ported $400 mil­lion worth of cher­ries to China.

Apart from trade, the two coun­tries will fo­cus on co­op­er­a­tion in ar­eas such as sci­en­tific re­search, Heine said.

“Chile is a coun­try with the world’s largest num­ber of as­tro­nom­i­cal ob­ser­va­to­ries. There are three Chile-China as­tro­nom­i­cal cen­ters,” he said, adding that 14 Chi­nese space sci­en­tists work full time in Chile.

“We would like to see that kind of co­op­er­a­tion ex­tend to other ar­eas, for ex­am­ple, in Antarc­tic stud­ies,” he said.

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