October 23, 2023 #ChileGlobal

Five milestones in bilateral relations between China and Chile

In the framework of the 8th version of ChileWeek China, we highlight the main aspects that have marked more than half a century of cooperation between the two countries.

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December marks 53 years since relations between the People's Republic of China and Chile began, an exchange marked by cooperation and which since 2015 has been expressed in ChileWeek China, a space where the agenda is made up of trade promotion, investment attraction, economic development, sustainability, tourism promotion, culture and Chilean agribusiness.

"We know that Chile is recognized in China as a reliable partner in sectors such as agribusiness, seafood and mining, and therefore we are in a good position to strengthen our trade relations in new areas, such as science, technology, innovation and, why not, culture," said President Gabriel Boric, who led the public-private delegation of this eighth version.

In order to understand the importance of this exchange, we review some of the major milestones that have marked the relationship between the two countries, so different from each other, but which share more than an ocean in common. 

1. Chile, the pioneer in the region

In 1970, Chile was the first South American country to establish diplomatic relations with China; in 1999, the first Latin American country to support its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), while in 2004, it became the first Latin American country to recognize China as a market economy, a path that led to the great milestone of 2005 with the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the two nations.

After that, China gradually increased its presence in Chilean trade until it became Chile's main trading partner, with imports of Chilean goods and services (not copper or lithium) worth US$ 7,927 million in 2022.

"Chile-China relations are one of the best in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Chile is the pioneer of the Belt and Road in the region," said China's first president, Xi Jinping, in October 2023. 

2. The eighth Chile Week China

ChileWeek China is a bilateral meeting organized and coordinated by the Undersecretariat of International Economic Relations (SUBREI) and ProChile, with the participation of representatives from the public and business sectors. 

"These meetings allow us to strengthen Chile's positioning as a stable economy and a reliable exporter in countries with important markets, where we can grow, as well as to identify new opportunities for Chilean industries in areas where we are widely recognized in the Chinese market, such as agribusiness, seafood, mining, energy and other strategic sectors," emphasized the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alberto Van Klaveren.

The 2023 version focused on initiatives related to electromobility, lithium industry, energy and public infrastructure projects. 

3. Cherry, the star of the Chinese New Year

This sweet red fruit, which in Chinese tradition represents prosperity and fortune, becomes the protagonist of the main festival of the Asian giant: the Lunar New Year. As it coincides with winter in the northern hemisphere, the Chilean cherry is the most demanded fruit in that country, with figures that are on the rise.  

From January to December 2022, Chile exported US $2,673 million in fresh cherries, compared to US $1,879 million for the same period in 2021. 

4. Asset diversification: the challenge of the short term

Currently, Chile in China is consolidated as an exporter of minerals (copper, lithium, iron, molybdenum, among others); forestry products (cellulose); seafood products such as fishmeal and seaweed; and food, especially meats, seafood, packaged wines and fresh fruit.

ProChile explains that this ChileWeek is the ideal scenario to expand the supply of Chilean products in the Asian giant's market. "In addition, we want to continue promoting -among others- the export of domestic meat and dairy products; dried fruits such as nuts or supporting citrus fruits, such as lemons, tangerines, grapefruit and oranges on the tables of millions of Chinese consumers," said the Director General of ProChile, Ignacio Fernandez.

5. Sustainable development: a global challenge

Strengthening Chile as an attractive destination for foreign investment is another focus of this meeting. In this way, the country will showcase its work for the development of renewable energies and electromobility, as part of its image to the world.

"Chile is betting on the future, on an economically, humanly and environmentally sustainable model that is based on a solid institutional foundation, and that takes into account all the diversity of our identity, history, culture, geography and offer to the world," said Rossana Dresdner, Executive Director of the Fundación Imagen de Chile. 

He also emphasized that this new version of ChileWeek China 2023 "is a reflection of a reliable country that offers certainties and that, in an unpredictable world scenario, seeks new proposals and solutions that go beyond our own borders and that can contribute to building a better world".

As part of this meeting, the authorities announced the signing of 13 bilateral agreements aimed at promoting aquaculture and fruit exports from Chile, as well as strengthening the development of scientific research in Antarctica.

In addition to the above, an investment of US$233,187,425 has been made by the Tsingshan Holding Group for the installation in 2025 of a lithium-based materials production plant in the port of Mejillones, in the Antofagasta region.


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