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Chile Seeks to Strengthen Trade Relations with Hong Kong and Mainland China

Chile is working to strengthen its relationship with Hong Kong and mainland China in an effort to increase bi-lateral trade and investment flows and turn Chile into a platform for international investors in general and a gateway for Asia-Pacific investors into Latin America in particular. Of special note was the 25 August meeting between Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So and General Directorate for International Economic Relations (DIRECON)’s Director General Pablo Urría.

According to a DIRECON press release, Mr. Urría highlighted during the meeting the importance of Hong Kong as a trade and financial platform for Asia as well as the “Chile Day” event that is scheduled to take place in Hong Kong next year. Chile Day is a public-private partnership that seeks to promote Chile in foreign markets as a highly attractive destination for financial investments as well as a fund management platform for Latin America and emerging markets. In addition, stakeholders are working through Chile Day to strengthen linkages between local and global capital markets.

Mr. So also had a chance to discuss potential opportunities to enhance bi-lateral agricultural exchanges in a 24 August meeting with Chilean Minister of Agriculture Carlos Furche. Moreover, Chilean Pacific Foundation Executive Director Manfred Wilhelmy stated at a 25 August luncheon organised by the Asia-Pacific Chamber of Commerce, the Chilean Pacific Foundation and HSBC Bank that the free trade agreement that Chile signed with Hong Kong “in fact is a strategic alliance.” Mr. Wilhelmy said that Chile looks forward to “building on this foundation and on a tradition of friendship to achieve new goals in bilateral cooperation in trade and investment” and challenged both sides to “also pay more attention to other fields, like technology and culture, in which Hong Kong excels.”

More recently, DIRECON head Andrés Rebolledo described as a “great asset” the relationship that Chile has been able to develop over the years with mainland China, which is helped by a robust institutional structure. He reminded his audience at a 16 September roundtable on mainland China and Chile that the two sides are committed to expand their bi-lateral FTA and highlighted the opportunity for Chile to increase its agricultural and forestry exports to the mainland. Chilean authorities believe that the decision to prioritise the country’s relationship with mainland China will yield concrete results, both commercially and by incentivising mainland Chinese investment in various sectors of the Chilean economy.

According to Mr. Rebolledo, the challenges ahead include diversifying Chile’s exports to the mainland and incorporating services such as tourism. Chile is also seeking to encourage more investment and stimulate electronic commerce. In this regard, a recent co-operation agreement between DIRECON and Alibaba is expected to provide access to Chilean companies to more than 367 million active buyers.

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