China Gets Closer to Latin America with Chile Trade Deal

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Fruit industry leaders in Chile and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this week to reinforce trade ties, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Friday.

The Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Food and Native Products (CCCFNA) reportedly inked the deal “early this week, pledging to boost exchanges of technology and technical expertise, support publicity, and improve transparency in trade and customs data to help faster exports.”

“China has become a very important market for Chilean fresh fruits and we felt that it was necessary to formalize our current way of working … in these uncertain and challenging times, it has never been more important to facilitate and enhance our cooperation with China,” ASOEX President Ronald Bown said in a statement.

“Chile’s exports to China have been growing … [rapidly] in recent years thanks to targeted marketing campaigns and lower prices [than competitors] that have tapped into Chinese market trends for cheaper high-quality products,” the SCMP writes. “Between 2017 and 2019, trade data showed the volume of Chilean fruit exports to China – both fresh and dried – grew more than 80 percent.”

“The export of Chilean nectarines, apples, and cherries posted the biggest growth with export volumes rising by up to 600 percent over the two year period,” the newspaper reports, citing ASOEX data. “In the first two months of 2020, Chile was the largest supplier of fresh fruit to China in terms of value,” ASOEX said.

In 2005, Chile became the first Latin American country to sign a free-trade agreement with China. In 2018, Chile joined Beijing’s infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative, which the Chinese Communist Party uses to expand its sphere of influence. This week’s MOU signing serves as a reminder of Beijing’s growing presence in Chile, where it remains the country’s biggest trading partner.