China Daily, 28 May 2005
China, Chile warm to FTA
By Chen Hua (China Daily)
China and Chile are to sign an agreement next Tuesday cementing their co-operation in developing a joint copper industry.
China Minmetal Corporation (CMC) is to be the first Chinese enterprise to invest in Chile’s copper production.
CMC will establish joint ventures (JV) with Chilean enterprises. Part of the JV’s copper production will be imported to China, said Nicolas Eyzaguirre, Chile’s Financial Minister.
For the time being, the GABY Mine in the north of Chile will be open to Chinese investment and Minmetal will have the first option to acquire a minimum 25 and maximum 49 per cent share of the JV, the minister said.
China is the world’s largest copper importer with its copper consumption accounting for about 22 per cent of the world’s total last year. This is mainly due to China’s dramatic development of electricity power generating and telecommunications facilities.
Following the signing of the JV agreement, a third round of China and Chile’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks is set to be held next month in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
First round talks were held in Beijing in January and the second round talks in April in Chile’s capital Santiago.
According to Eyzaguirre, Chile and its neighbouring countries have been staying proactive in production lines needed by China, such as mining, food production, forestry and fish farming.
As well as supplying China, South American countries also import a lot of goods from China, the minister stressed, including consumer and capital goods. As Chile and Latin America move forward their market can match China’s, he said.
Talking about current FTA talks between the two countries, Mario Ignacio Artaza, chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation Budget and Management Committee, said: "Things are going OK and we would expect the agreement would come in the near future."
Eyzaguirre also had talks with his Chinese counterpart Jin Renqing on Friday in Beijing.
"We had a fruitful and very challenging conversation today. China and Chile are both actively looking to bridge the Pacific through active investment and co-operation," the Chilean minister said.
Next Monday, the China-Chile Business Council will be established. "The China-Chile Business Council can add value to a unique relationship between two nations of the Pacific," the Chilean minister said.
"The council offers an opportunity to achieve a sound FTA between member countries. There are many areas where China and Chile can benefit through closer interaction between private sectors and government representatives."