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Chile, China Continue FTA Talks

Delegates from Chile and China are closer to reaching agreement after three days of talks in Santiago as part of the fourth round of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), said chief of the Chilean delegation on Wednesday.


Carlos Furche, director of International Economic Relations of Chilean Foreign Ministry, said this round of talks could mark the direction of the agreement, though a date for the final agreement has yet to be determined.


The beginning of the FTA talks was jointly announced last November by President Hu Jintao and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos Escobar on the sidelines of an informal meeting of APEC leaders.


Furche said his country attaches great importance to the treaty, given the prosperous development prospects for China and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region in the coming decades.


Chile is ready to strengthen commercial and personnel links with China and the whole of the Asia-Pacific region, said Furche.


Furche said Chilean development objectives will be linked to a "vigorous service economy allowing us to become a deployment platform for others to promote services in Chile and for us to become positioned as a bridge between the countries of Latin America and Asia."


The Chinese delegation, headed by Deputy Commerce Minister Yi Xiaozhun, also confirmed progress on a series of issues during this round of talks. The negotiations include market access, rules of origin and customs procedures, legal issues, commercial defense, cooperation, technical barriers to trade, and sanitary measures.


Yi held a meeting in Santiago with Chilean Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker, Minister of Economy Jorge Rodriguez Grossi, and Agriculture Minister Jaime Campos.


Experts believe that a FTA between Chile and China would create a strong incentive for Chilean goods to be exported to the Chinese market.


According to official statistics, Chilean exports to China in 2004 amounted to US$3.2 billion, while this year they have already surpassed US$2.18 billion.


The FTA would also stimulate a greater diversification of Chilean exports to the Asian giant.


The fourth round of negotiations, which started Monday, will conclude on Friday. The next round of talks will take place in Beijing.


(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2005)

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