Integration, not isolation, is the key to sustainable development in a world bound ever closely together by information and transportation networks. Chile is committed to forging regional and international economic cooperation that can raise the standard of living for our own people and with it, the prospects for growth among our many friends and partners. Even with the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), we stand ready to advance multilateral trade, which helps build a stable international consensus for the rule of law and collective economic security. Leading South America in competitiveness, digital technology and income per capita, Chile takes a broad view towards trade with our three biggest trading partners: the United States, China and the European Union.
The Chile-U.S. economic relationship remains strong partly through the long standing United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement, allowing the free flow of products, services and people between the two countries. The U.S. is the second largest market for Chilean products, while maintaining a positive trade balance as 100% of U.S. consumer and industrial goods exported to Chile are now duty free. Chile has also developed local ties with the states of California and Massachusetts, fostering collaboration between individuals, government, and the private sector across multiple sectors.
Chile has also enjoyed a blossoming economic relationship with China since we became the first Latin American country to sign a free trade agreement with our Pacific neighbor. Exports have increased 4.5% in the past year, establishing China as the largest market for Chilean products (28%). China also recently superseded the European Union as Chile’s second largest recipient of agricultural exports. On the other side, Chile became China’s leading supplier of fresh fruits in 2016. This success across multiple industries is due to the close working relationship between the Chilean and Chinese public and private sectors. President Xi Jinping’s aim of developing free trade and investment is warmly welcomed and can only further the already robust $31.2B trade relationship between Chile and China.
While Chile’s bilateral trade relationships continue to flourish, we know our future lies in multilateral pacts that can open new markets comprised of billions of people to our products and services. This is the spirit behind the “High Level Dialogue on Integration Initiatives in the Asia-Pacific” hosted in Vina del Mar, Chile on March 14 and 15. The open-ended discussions between TPP signatories and others—our first meeting since the U.S. withdrawal—explored the different trade initiatives in the wider Asia-Pacific region and a path forward for all countries committed to seeking progress and sustainability, including tackling inequality. Chile will aim to build bridges of understanding with TPP stakeholders and new partners, such as China and South Korea, seeking both convergence and cooperation, beneficial to both public and private stakeholders, while being realistic of existing differences.
Chile is a beneficiary of open, fair trade. We are also a strong proponent of trade worldwide, as the available economic evidence demonstrates that a rising tide of exchange lifts all boats. The Chile-China trade relationship will be a growing factor in our economic future. Together with our partners we can assess the post-TPP world, find new opportunities for multilateral cooperation, and effect real change for our people and the world.