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China, Chile 'landmark' FTA seen as a boon

By An Baijie | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-23 08:00

The deal upgrading the China-Chile Free Trade Agreement, signed two weeks ago and witnessed by the presidents of both nations, will facilitate e-commerce through measures such as streamlining customs procedures, said Chilean Ambassador to China Jorge Heine.

Hailing the protocol as a "landmark", Heine told China Daily on Tuesday that the upgraded China-Chile FTA includes rules on government procurement, competition policy and e-commerce.

On Nov 11, President Xi Jinping and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet witnessed the signing of the deal on upgrading the FTA between the two countries on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam. It is China's first FTA upgrade completed with a Latin American country.

From 2005 to 2016, bilateral trade between Chile and China increased fourfold, to $31 billion dollars.

Chile was also the first individual country to sign a free-trade agreement with China, as far back as 2005. Negotiations for upgrading the FTA took place in four sessions held in Beijing and in Santiago in the course of 2017.

"Two years ago, for Christmas, the Chilean post office received 4 million packages from Asia, and 2 million of them were from China," he said.

Heine pointed out, however, that it is taking quite a lot of time-between 30 to 40 days-for express packages to be delivered from China to customers in Chile because of customs and other procedures.

"This is something we have to overcome," he said, adding that by putting e-commerce into the protocol of upgrading the FTA, the two sides can deal with such issues.

Noting that Alibaba, China's e-commerce giant, sold $25 billion in products on 11/11, China's Singles' Day shopping craze, Heine said that Chile's products did especially well on that day, with Chile ranking No 2 in sales in Tmall Fresh.

Chile is the largest fruit exporter to China.

Last year, the Latin American country exported $1.2 billion worth of fruit to China, he said-one-fourth of the fruit by value imported by China hails from Chile.

As a country that has "benefited tremendously from economic globalization and free trade", Chile fully supports China's stance on boosting open economies and maintaining economic globalization, he said.

"We think that President Xi's speech in Davos in January was a clarion call in defense of economic globalization, and we fully share that perspective," he added.

The ambassador, who has worked 3 1/2 years in China, said he planned to write a book about contemporary China "with the Latin American perspective" after he retires on Dec 1.

"The literature in Spanish on China is really quite sparse. There isn't that much, particularly on contemporary China, post-reform China," he said.

"I'd like to share the China story with the Spanish-speaking world," he added.

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