Chile and Thailand bolster trade links

Chile and Thailand have finished negotiations for their free trade agreement (FTA), but they could not be finalised in time for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations on Oct 29.

Ambassadors from both sides, however, were upbeat that the legal process required by their respective parliaments would see the treaty take effect by the middle of next year, according to Chilean ambassador Javier Becker and his Thai counterpart Surapon Petchwara.

A seminar and party were held on Tuesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Chile and Thailand.

FTA negotiations, which received the nod on the sidelines of the 2010 Yokohama Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, covered trade in goods, cooperation, rules of origins, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical obstacles to trading, legal issues and services and investment.

The talks are awaiting the final political process, said Mr Becker, who has been stationed in Bangkok for a year now.

Chile, which has had a centre-right government for more than three years, has been vigorous in boosting international trade and investment, inking trade agreements with the US, the EU, South Korea, Japan, China, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia.

It is also negotiating pacts with Vietnam and India.

Mr Surapon, the new Thai ambassador to Santiago, said he is hopeful the bilateral FTA will take effect by mid-2013 so that his ambitious plan to bolster trade and investment cooperation will not be an uphill task.

As members of both Apec and the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation, Thailand and Chile should see greater economic relations said Mr Surapon.

He said fruit processing and precious stone mines among other businesses could improve the current US$800-million two-way trade.

Chilean companies consider Thailand a springboard to Asean, and Thai companies should also raise their profiles in the Latin American country, as other Asean nations are gaining a strong foothold there, said Mr Surapon.

The Chilean firm Magotteaux recently invested $100 million in Saraburi province, and hopefully more will come in, said the Thai ambassador.

About the author

Writer: Achara Ashayagachat
Position: Senior Reporter