Chilean agriculture minister Carlos Furche has hailed the signing this week of the Trans Pacific Partnership as a major step forward for the country’s fruit industry, claiming it will widen the country’s fruit export basket and speed up the process of opening new markets.
Chile exported more than 2m tonnes of fruit in 2014/15, of which almost 40 per cent was shipped to the 11 other countries involved in the TPP.
“The TPP is the most important trade agreement signed so far outside of the WTO and will bring additional benefits to Chile in relation to market access, especially in relation to Japan,” Furche said.
Andres Reboleldo, director general of trade promotion agency Direcon, said for a small country like Chile, highly dependent on international trade and foreign investment, the deal brings potential benefits in several markets including Japan, Canada, Malaysia and Vietnam, especially for the food industry which accounts for a fifth of Chile’s total exports.
Ronald Bown, president of Asoex, noted that although Chile already had free trade agreements or association agreements with all of the signatories of the TPP, the new deal would bring wider market access for more products and, more importantly, establish protocols for conflict resolution among its members.
“This will enable us to improve the way in which we resolve trade disputes with agents who in some cases still employ monopolistic practices and go against the principles of fair trade,” he said.
Bown added: “In the case of tariffs, there are no specific new developments in the treaty, however it does open the door to bilateral negotiations with some of the signatories, which could allow us to correct some cases of interest for the Chilean fruit industry.”
The level of duties paid by Chilean fruit exporters in TPP countries varies widely, ranging from a zero tariff for high-volume items like table grapes in the US, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and Mexico, to 2.18 per cent in Japan, and 18 per cent in Vietnam.