Chile Ratifies Free Trade Agreement With the EU

Chilean Parliament sealed yesterday the Political and Economical Association Agreement signed with the European Union in November 2002. Lawmakers made real one of the main goals of Santiago's foreign policy only after one month a similar treaty was agreed with USA.

Thanks to the Congress fast treatment, the commercial clauses of the deal will start ruling by February 2003. It means that from such date, 85% of Chileans exports to the EU will enter into the community duty free. Since the fourth year from the inception date, the amount will add up to 96% of Chileans goods

The European Union received $3.635 millions in Chilean exports in 2002, while the bilateral commercial exchange added up to $7.5 billions during the same period. As per local estimations, Chile's exports may increase by 10% thanks to the new agreement.

This deal confirms the historic pattern of the Chilean diplomacy: neither with Washington nor with Brussels, with both at the same time. Also, shows Santiago's wish to play from outside any regional association. Chile is not interested in negotiating side by side with the Mercosur. On the other hand systematically refused to agree with Andean countries common policies.

Notwithstanding, it looks like this policy is giving results. Chile obtained a seat at the UN Security Council and has strengthened its relations with Washington without losing independence on international affairs.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

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