Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Chile will promote bilateral ecomonic cooperation, providing an opportunity to review the progress and challenges in the relationship, a Chilean expert said.
“Bilateral economic and trade ties have reached the level where China is this country’s leading trading partner, and therefore that should be reflected by a strategic proposal to reinforce the relationship,” Osvaldo Rosales, a consultant and former director of International Trade and Integration at the Santiago-based Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean told Xinhua in a recent interview.
In 2014, the trade volume betweeen China and Chile reached 34.15 billion U.S. dollars, almost five-fold the amount after the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) in 2005. Before the FTA was reached, China was the 25th trading partner of Chile. Now it is Chile’s biggest trading partner and importer.
In 2015, although the overall trade volume declined to 31.9 billion dollars because of the global financial crisis, China still imported over one-fourth of the country’s exports.
Rosales underlined that Chile has bolstered its ties with China, the engine of the global economy in the 21st century. He also said: “It is time to examine trade ties, not in terms of
quantity, but in terms of quality.”
Chile’s challenge is to diversify its exports, currently “concentrated on a few basic products,” he said, adding that one way to address this issue is to promote Chilean exports to parts of China where supply has yet to meet demand. “China can be a more effective partner for Chile” by helping Chilean exports gain a foothold in “west or southwest China, where there is relatively less development,” said Rosales. “Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities are already covered by the whole world.”
Chile’s state-run Production Development Corporation and China’s agency
for trade and investment promotion could work together on a Chilean export program for those regions, according to Rosales. Chile should also do its part, he said. “The Chilean government and business institutions have the task to provide interested Chinese entities with business opportunities, and trade and technological partnerships, and to advance in the assessment of projects, so that when Chinese investors arrive, they can find out about the potential opportunities,” Rosales said.