Chile seeks to expand purview of trade pact with India

By: | Published: November 7, 2014 12:10 AM

India and Chile have agreed to strengthen cooperation in diverse sectors and expand existing institutional frameworks.

In continuance of the government’s efforts to build stronger ties with Latin American countries, a series of  high-level visits took place last month from the region, aimed at easing trade and promoting investment.

After visits from countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador and Guatemala, a high-level team from Chile was in Delhi, the second in October, to take forward the process initiated by its director, foreign trade.

Besides strengthening foreign relations between the two countries, the deputy foreign minister of Chile also spoke about cementing economic ties when he met Indian leaders. India and Chile have agreed to strengthen cooperation in diverse sectors and expand existing institutional frameworks.

The two countries have a preferential trade agreement (PTA), which covers about 400 items. “Earlier in October, the director of bilateral economic affairs of Chile was here to participate in PTA expansion talks. Both sides felt that this should be concluded soon,” a senior MEA official told FE.

A high-level trade delegation, led by Pablo Urria, director of Bilateral Economic Affairs of the directorate general for international  economic relations (DIRECON), Chile, was in India earlier in October to negotiate expansion of PTA. “In 2009, we agreed to start negotiations for widening the agreement, which would include new products, subject to tariff preferences, and deepening in matters related to Rules of Origin, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (MSF) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT),” the official added.

Urria said the enlargement process ‘‘is part of the trade-inclusion strategy of Chile in Asia, specifically in those markets where it has signed a comprehensive FTA.’’

Besides, he stressed that Chilean exporters have a growing interest in further opening up of the Indian market, ‘‘given that this country is characterised by high tariffs in sectors that represent a potential exporter to Chile”.

Of the total of 2,807 tariff lines that will partially or totally be freed from duties, 1,023 products correspond to preferences granted by India to Chilean products and 1,784 to preferences from Chile to India.

Chile is the only country in Latin America that has a PTA with India. The Chilean side expressed its keenness to elevate the PTA into a CEPA and the discussions are expected to commence soon. Chile also agreed to liberalise its business visa regime for Indian businessmen. A law for enacting changes in the consular policies in Chile is expected to be considered in the Chilean parliament.

The two countries have agreed to set up a India-Chile Scientific Forum to foster joint research in select areas, including tele-medicine, e-governance, tele-education, agriculture, astronomy, glaciology, oceanography, climate change, IT and renewable energy.

Chile and India agreed to expand a trade agreement to increase product coverage and tariff preferences, which is part of the South American nation’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the Asian market.

Exports to India rose 83% in the first half of 2014, recovering from the fall of 2013. India is the seventh destination of Chilean exports, equivalent to 3.9% of total shipments.

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