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Chile, China ratify free trade accord

Houston Chronicle, USA

Chile, China Ratify Free Trade Accord

9 August 2006

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Chile’s Senate on Wednesday unanimously voted to ratify a free trade agreement with China, Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley said.

All 31 senators approved the accord, which had been ratified by the lower house of Congress last month and is expected to take effect this year.

The accord calls for the lifting of duties for 92 of the products exchanged by the two countries over 10 years.

Both governments expect the deal will rapidly increase bilateral trade which reached $6.9 billion last year, with a $1.8 billion surplus for Chile.

Chile could "become a bridge of union between Asia and South America," Foxley said.

During the first half of this year trade totaled $3.6 billion, with a $647 million surplus for Chile.

The first products to be exempted from duties are Chilean copper and other minerals, vegetables, fish oil, fish, chicken, shrimp, peaches, nectarines, as well as Chinese machinery, televisions, printers, computers and automobiles.

Chile has in recent years signed free trade deals with the United States, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand and Singapore, and has advanced talks on deals with India and Japan.