Chile aims for free trade talks with China


Chile Aims for Free Trade Talks with China

Gabriela Donoso

3 March 2004

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Chile said Wednesday it wants to improve
ties with China in the hope of eventually signing a free trade agreement
and has set a date with Beijing for preliminary talks.

Chile plans to build contacts with China and others this year while
hosting a series of meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

"We have set an approximate date for working meetings with China. We
will be in contact with China for this purpose in early March," Chile’s
Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear said after a meeting of senior officials
of APEC in Santiago.

It was through its participation in APEC that Chile first approached
trade partners it now has bilateral agreements with, including the
United States, Canada, Mexico and South Korea.

A groundbreaking accord the United States, its top trading partner, went
into effect on Jan. 1.

Exports of copper, forestry products and salmon are the backbone of
Chile’s economy and last year it signed a free trade deal with South
Korea, signaling its interest in forging similar pacts with other Asian
nations, including India, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan.

"We’ve always looked to the north, to North America and Europe, but the
future is in Asia and we are committed to playing a role in that part of
the world," said Ricardo Lagos Weber, director of multilateral affairs
at the Foreign Ministry and son of the president.

Chile will be headquarters of an APEC summit in November and will host
ministerial and technical meetings throughout the year of the 21-nation
organization, which represents nearly 55 percent of the world economy.

Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service

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