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Chile’s RCEP application ’fresh sign’ supporting globalization

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Global Times | 16 June 2024

Chile’s RCEP application ’fresh sign’ supporting globalization

Chile has officially submitted an application to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade agreement (FTA), and it looks forward to becoming the first Latin American country to join the pact, the China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday.

The application is being filed as the FTA ends its first full year of implementation, during which it promoted broader, higher-level and deeper regional cooperation and openness, while also bolstering confidence in the global economic recovery. These fruitful results are an important reason behind Chile’s application, observers said.

Various industries from raw materials and agriculture to fishing in Chile will benefit greatly from joining the RCEP, analysts said. Chile’s application also sends a fresh sign in promoting global free trade and multilateralism, despite certain countries’ protectionist moves, they said.

A Chilean official was quoted as saying in the CCTV report that Chile has already reached agreements with most RCEP member countries, which will open up new opportunities for Chile’s exports and deepen Chile’s relations with Asia.

"Chile is one of the most open countries in Latin America, and it is also a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)," Jiang Shixue, a professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at Shanghai University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Chile was the first Latin American country to sign an FTA with China. So it is natural that Chile would apply to join the RCEP, which is a continuance of its free trade and open policy," said the professor.

The application sends a clear signal that unilateralism, although certain Western countries have been aggressively pushing this forward, is against the will of most countries that embrace globalization, Jiang said. Becoming the first Latin American country to join the pact will uphold free trade and economic integration.

Chinese officials said in 2022 that China is willing to provide support and assistance within its ability for Chile to join the RCEP. China’s application to join the CPTPP has also received Chile’s support.

The RCEP is the world’s largest FTA in terms of population and economic scale, and milestone for economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region. The pact ended its first full year of implementation in June, and it has helped revitalize regional economic growth.

According to data released by China’s Ministry of Commerce, in 2023, trade volume within the RCEP rose to $5.6 trillion, slightly surpassing the level of 2021, the year before the agreement took effect.

The pact has enhanced industry and supply chain cooperation. The region also attracted $234.1 billion in greenfield investments in 2023, up 29.8 percent year-on-year and 2.2 times that of 2021.

Observers said that the FTA’s results and its rosy prospects in fueling the economy could be the primary reasons for Chile’s application.

"Chile is an export-oriented economy, and closer trade links with the Asia-Pacific region under the RCEP will definitely expand its export products, such as raw materials, red wine, cherries, grapes and salmon," Jiang noted.

China has been Chile’s largest export destination and import source for many years. Last year, Chile’s exports to China reached $37.45 billion, accounting for 39 percent of its total exports, the Ministry of Commerce said in February.

 source: Global Times