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Chile hopes to broaden scope of cooperation during visit

By An Baijie | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-23 07:09

China and Chile will start to negotiate the deepening of their free-trade agreement during President Xi Jinping's state visit, which starts on Tuesday, according to Chile's ambassador to China.

"We hope to initiate the negotiations for strengthening and deepening the existing FTA, to include areas that were not included in the past, like e-commerce and financial services," Ambassador Jorge Heine told China Daily recently.

The two countries also plan to upgrade bilateral ties, hold talks to expand market access, and enhance scientific and technological cooperation during Xi's visit, he said.

The two countries signed an FTA in November 2005. Since then, China has become Chile's largest trade partner, and Chile is now China's third-largest trade partner in Latin America. Bilateral trade has risen from $8 billion in 2005 to $31 billion in 2015.

"The 2005 FTA is largely an agreement to facilitate trading goods, but more and more, services are center stage in international trade. So we will adapt this FTA to the new environment," Heine said.

They will work together to diversify their trade, which is weighted toward copper, he said. Chile is the world's leading producer and exporter of copper and has the world's largest reserves at 39 percent.

"About 75 percent of our $16 billion in exports to China in 2015 was made up of copper, so that is significant," he said. "But $4 billion was not copper. What we have seen is the diversification of our export basket to China."

Chile attaches great importance to China's huge food market - the nation is the second-largest exporter of fresh food to China, after Thailand, Heine said.

Chile is the third-largest exporter of wine and the seventh-largest exporter of marine products to China. Last year, Chile also exported $400 million worth of cherries to China.

Apart from trade, the two countries will focus on cooperation in areas such as scientific research, Heine said.

"Chile is a country with the world's largest number of astronomical observatories. There are three Chile-China astronomical centers," he said, adding that 14 Chinese space scientists work full time in Chile.

"We would like to see that kind of cooperation extend to other areas, for example, in Antarctic studies," he said.

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