Chile and Malaysia sign free trade agreement at APEC summit

The accord will see tariffs removed for thousands of products traded between the Pacific and South East Asian nations.

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Chile has signed a free-trade agreement with Malaysia, its first such pact with a country from within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The agreement was signed in the presence of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. It will be implemented in the first half of 2011 and will initially remove tariffs from 6,960 Malaysian products imported to Chile, increasing to 10,216 over the next five years, according to a press release from Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

The signing finalized a previous agreement made in May between the two countries, concluding years of meetings. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled US$230.5 million in 2009.

President Piñera, quoted in Chilean newspaper La Tercera, called the agreement “historic” and added it was also “the first FTA of our Government, which represents a great leap forward.”

Piñera added that the agreement made ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit 2010 in Yokohama, Japan “will allow us to enrich ourselves further. We are taking a big step in the integration between Chile and Malaysia and integration between Chile and the world of Asia-Pacific.”

The two countries have also agreed to cooperate in areas including research and development and innovation, science and technology, trade and investment, mining and mining-related industry, tourism, education and human capital development, culture and promotion of tourism.

Chile already has free trade agreements with 58 countries, including the United States, China and the European Union and it has also started free-trade agreement negotiations with Thailand, another member of ASEAN, which also includes APEC members Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Chile has also started free-trade agreement negotiations with Thailand, another member of ASEAN, which also includes APEC members Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Chile’s exports grew 34 percent in September, compared to the same period last year, according to the Central Bank. Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund predicts the Chilean economy to grow around 5 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 2011.

This post is also available in Spanish