As well as signalling the beginning of another year, January 1st also marked the eighth anniversary of Chile’s free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States.
The landmark deal came into effect at the beginning of 2004 and, eight years on, it remains an important document for the South American nation.
Business between the two countries throughout 2010 was worth close to US$17 billion, making the United States Chile’s third biggest trading partner – behind China and the European Union – according to an evaluation report produced by Chile’s General Directorate of International Economic Relatoins (Direcon).
2010 was also a strong year for Chilean exports to the United States, which were worth more than US$7 billion, a 16 percent increase on 2009. The United States was the fourth biggest destination for Chilean exports, receiving a tenth of Chilean shipments worldwide.
Once again, Chile’s biggest export to the United States was copper, with shipments increasing by an average of 28 percent each year throughout the life of the FTA. Copper exports to the United States were worth over US$2.2 billion in 210, or 32 percent of total exports.
The United States remained the largest export market for Chilean fresh produce worldwide, receiving US$1.57 billion worth of fruit shipments in 2010. The earnings from Chile’s fruit exports has grown by an average of 16 percent each year since the FTA was introduced.
Wood and paper products from Chile were also in high demand in the United States, with lumber shipments accounting for 8 percent of all total exports, with a value of US$527 million.
Conditions are only set to improve for Chilean exporters, with amendments to the original agreement that Direcon believes will make it easier for local exporters to access tariff benefits.