Chile and Hong Kong agree to sign free trade agreement

The countries’ leaders are expected to enact the pact at the APEC summit in September, further strengthening ties between the two emerging economies.

Talks aimed at further strengthening bilateral trade between Hong Kong and Chile held in Asia have ended in success as both countries agreed to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) that will eliminate any tariffs between the countries and prevent any from being established in the future.

Only three rounds of negotiations were required, the first of which was held in January of this year – the rapidity of the agreement reflective of the mutual benefits and shared vision of both parties.

Under the agreement, not only does Hong Kong undertake not to impose future tariffs on Chile, but will recognize the geographic indication of both the Pica lemon and Juan Fernández lobster, adding to its existing recognition of Chilean pisco and wine indications.

It will also open new opportunities for exporters and providers of services from Chile, especially in the fields of environment and labor.

Both parties will effect a legal revision of the document during August, and hope to be in a position to sign the FTA at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held in Russia this September.

Mutual benifits

Hong Kong is a market of approximately 7 million inhabitants and is very attractive for Chilean exporters, given the high standard of living of its population, which has a gross domestic product  per capita of close to US$50,000.

It is also one of the most open and competitive economies on the planet, which has transformed it into a global center for commercial services – especially in finance – and made it an air and maritime hub.

Its geographic location, on the southeast coast of China, gives it a strategic position in the region as an entry and exit port of goods, services, and investment to and from mainland China and other emerging powers of the Asian Pacific.

According to official figures, Chilean exports to Hong Kong rose to US$181 million in the first semester of 2012, with cherries, grapes, and blueberries forming the principal breadwinners.

For its part, Chilean imports from Hong Kong fell 21 percent in the analysed period, totaling at US$58 million.