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Chile and Thailand sign agriculture agreements in Bangkok

Santiago Times, Chile

Chile and Thailand sign agriculture agreements in Bangkok

16 August 2012

By Aaron Walck

Agreements to lead to broader free trade agreement, agriculture minister says.

Chilean Minister of Agriculture Luis Mayol signed two agreements in Bangkok Wednesday with his Thai counterpart, Theera Wongsamut. The agreements will set a common protocol for agricultural exchange and sanitary practices.

Together, Mayol said the agreements will “incentivize trade between both nations, for which we shortly hope to announce a free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand.”

He noted that an FTA would likely be signed by the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013, after another round of negotiations.

“We have different climates, are from different hemispheres, and have different products, therefore we should not compete with Thailand. Rather, we should complement each other,” Mayol told La Tercera.

Thailand has shown an increasing interest in the high value of Chile’s agricultural products, namely wine, fresh and processed fruit, oil, seafood, livestock, and dairy products. In response, Thailand’s role as a rice exporter has made a trade agreement seem particularly desirable, as the transfer of technology and ideas could allow Chile to cultivate rice domestically, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The FTA would also seek to alleviate the current 45 percent tariff placed on Chilean goods in Thailand, in comparison to the 6 percent for Thai goods in Chile. Mayol said he hopes that the treaty will see both of these tariffs lowered to zero.

If signed, Thailand would become the 60th country to sign an FTA with Chile. These negotiations show Chile’s increasing interest in Southeast Asia, as it currently has treaties with China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. As Chile has also engaged in trade negotiations with Indonesia.