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China-Chile free trade deal to boost bilateral ties, cut tariffs

By JING SHUIYU | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-02 08:40

Cars to be exported to Chile wait to be loaded onto a cargo ship in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, on May 26, 2018. WANG CHUN/FOR CHINA DAILY

More items will be exempted from tariffs after the upgraded free trade agreement between China and Chile came into place, with the exemption likely to cover 98 percent of the items for bilateral trade, the Ministry of Commerce said on Friday.

The China-Chile free trade area will become the country's highest-level one in terms of the opening-up in goods trade, the ministry said in a statement.

The renewed free trade agreement, signed in 2017, took effect on Friday. According to it, China will gradually eliminate tariffs on some wood products from Chile within three years, and Chile will immediately eliminate tariffs on Chinese goods like textiles, clothing, home appliances and sugar products.

"The protocol will further explore the potential of China-Chile bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and enhance the level of trade liberalization and facilitation between the two countries," the ministry said.

Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said China-Chile economic and trade cooperation can be further enriched, which is conducive to deepening ties between China and Latin America.

Wei said China has an increasing demand for Chile's agricultural products such as fruit and meat and partnership in areas of e-commerce and environment has great potential.

Official data showed bilateral trade reached $42.8 billion in 2018, an increase of 24 percent year-on-year, accounting for almost one third of Chile's total foreign trade. Chile mainly exports mineral and forestry products to China, while it mainly imports textiles, light industrial products, electronic and machinery products from China.

The China-Chile FTA, signed in 2005, was the first FTA that China signed with a Latin American nation. In 2017, China and Chile upgraded the FTA, which covers protocol dealing with government procurement, competition policy and e-commerce businesses.

In terms of service trade, the two sides will open up more sectors to each other on the basis of the agreement, the ministry said.

For instance, China will open more than 20 sectors including legal services, entertainment services and distribution, while Chile will promote the opening-up of more than 40 sectors including express delivery, transportation and construction, according to the ministry.

Chile and China have reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism and free trade principles, as protectionism and anti-globalization prevail, Luis Schmidt, Chile's ambassador to China, said in an earlier interview with China Daily.

"We really appreciate that such an important country as China has assumed the defense of free trade and multilateralism, and has been playing a leading role in the fight against climate change," he said.

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