BEIJING: China and Chile are in talks to expand the 10-year-old free trade agreement between the two sides, to boost trade in agricultural products and develop logistics and financial services, Chilean officials said on Wednesday.
Carlos Furche, Chilean Minister of Agriculture, said governments from both sides are keen to accelerate talks in areas including air transportation, e-commerce, services, customs procedures and rules of origin, as well as add grapes, pork and wool in the trade list of agricultural products.
Both countries sealed a FTA deal in November 2005 that has since made China the South American country’s largest trade partner. Bilateral trade amounted to $34.1 billion in 2014, five times greater than before the pact was signed in 2005, data from the Ministry of Commerce show.
China exports mainly construction machinery, manufacturing equipment, steel, electronics, textiles, garments and household appliances to Chile.
In addition to copper, wine, blueberries and cherries, Chile’s exports to China also include timber, inorganic chemicals and animal feed.
Though the price drops in global commodities markets have affected the value of Chile’s copper exports to China, Furche said rising incomes and accelerating urbanization are driving demand for more diversified diets and spurred more consumption of fruit and meat.
“We can see the upside in the daily calorie intake of consumers in China, especially fruits and high-protein foods, including trout, pork and dairy products,” said Angel Sartori, director of the Agricultural and Livestock Service, the Chilean State body responsible for supporting the country’s agriculture, forestry and livestock industries.
China is Chile’s largest export destination for cherries and blueberries in Asia, and consumed 80 percent of Chile’s total cherry output in 2015. Eager to compete with established rivals such as New Zealand in the field of dairy products export, Chile also shipped 6,000 dairy cows to Chinese markets through maritime transportation last year.
“Both governments have agreed on the need to introduce factors that will allow us to modernize and expand trade,” said Jorge Heine, Chilean Ambassador to China.
China and Chile signed a supplementary agreement on investment under the FTA in September 2012, which mapped the scope of the China-Chile free trade area.