LIMA – Chile and South Korea have announced they are beginning negotiations to strengthen the bilateral Free Trade Agreement they signed 12 years ago, the first ever between a Latin American and an Asian country.
Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz, together with South Korea’s Trade, Industry and Power Minister Joo Hyung-hwan, signed a joint declaration in Lima on Friday to boost the existing agreement, which has been in force since 2004.
Both governments are also set to initiate a process to improve and delve deeper into aspects related to trade in goods and services, investments, and cooperation in technology transfer, among others.
“During last year’s visit by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to Chile, she agreed with President Michelle Bachelet on the need to boost this pact, which has proved highly successful for the two nations,” Muñoz said as part of the events of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit being held in the Peruvian capital.
He added that the two countries “have agreed to begin a new round of negotiations aimed at further opening the market for Chilean exports, especially food products.”
With these negotiations, Chile hopes to gain access to different markets into which the two countries have decided to expand the scope of the agreement.
Since 2006, the South American country has been requesting the inclusion of over 370 products that are a priority for its agricultural sector.
The gradual expansion of the FTA could mean slashed duties on items such as meat, dairy products, cheese, honey, vegetables, walnuts, some fruits, cereals, and ready to eat foods, Chilean director for Multilateral Economic Affairs Paulina Nazal said.
South Korea is one of the most developed and open economies in the world, with a per capita GDP that rose to $36,612 in 2015, and is a significant player in international trade in goods and services.
Being the first such deal between countries from their respective regions, the Chile-South Korea FTA marked a historical milestone of sorts and was key in Chile’s entry into the Asia Pacific.
South Korea is currently Chile’s sixth-largest trading partner, after China, the United States, the European Union, Japan and Brazil, with a total bilateral trade stake of 4.5 percent.