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‘Chile-Korea commerce clear sailing with revised FTA’

Oct. 1, 2018 - 17:07 By Joel Lee
On the back of a bilateral free trade agreement that entered into force in 2004, Chile and South Korea are enhancing two-way trade and investment in comprehensive areas and diversifying their export products, Chile’s top envoy to Korea said during a National Day reception on Sept. 18.

The free trade accord -- the first signed by Chile with an Asian country -- has increased bilateral trade at an average of 10 percent a year over the last 15 years, said Chilean Ambassador to Korea Fernando Danus during the event to mark the 208th anniversary of Chile’s independence from colonial Spain.

“Last year, the bilateral trade volume amounted to more than $6 billion, with more than $4 billion comprising Chilean exports to the Korean market. At present, Korea is Chile’s fifth-largest commercial partner,” he said at Grand Hyatt Seoul. “Copper represents a substantial part of our exports to Korea. However, the free trade agreement has also enhanced the trade of other products, such as wine, fruits, salmon, seafood and pork.”

Chilean Ambassador to Korea Fernando Danus (right), Korean Deputy Minister for Trade Negotiations Yoo Myung-hee (left) and Chilean dancers pose at Chile’s National Day reception at Grand Hyatt Seoul on Sept. 18. (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)

Korean exports to Chile have grown steadily, from $569 million in 2003 to almost $2 billion last year, he added. He also said the two governments will start negotiations to upgrade the 15-year-old agreement in November.

“Chile and Korea share principles, values and common positions on many international issues. We cooperate actively in international organizations, including the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation,” he said. “Our joint presence in Antarctica provides an interesting field for collaboration, as evident in three dialogues that already occurred on Antarctic matters.”

Chile welcomes Korea as an associate state of the Pacific Alliance, he noted. The institution comprises Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, and allows tariff-free access across its member states, with a commitment to bolstering trade and investment links with Asia-Pacific economies. Seoul will soon kick off negotiations with the alliance member states for associate membership.

“Chile has greatly contributed to resolving a wide range of global issues over the past 200 years as an outstanding member of the international community,” said Korean Deputy Minister for Trade Negotiations Yoo Myung-hee. “On top of that, the country boasts the highest per capita income in South America, and is continuously experiencing stable economic growth and leading global trade rule-making.”

Santiago and Seoul established diplomatic relations in 1962. Chile was the first South American country to recognize the South Korean government in 1949, and since then both countries have actively supported each other at the United Nations and other international settings, Yoo highlighted.

Turning to the bilateral free trade agreement, she said, “In particular, Chilean wine and Korean automobiles have gained immense popularity in each other’s markets,” noting the need to upgrade it “to produce better results and reflect the latest changes in global trade environment.”

By Joel Lee (