India and South American nation Chile have comprehensively reviewed the possibilities of enhancing trade and investment partnerships and sought to have deeper cooperation in various other sectors including defence.
During the 7th Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between the two countries held in Santiago on Tuesday evening (Sept 14, 2021), “the entire gamut of their bilateral relations including space cooperation, energy, cooperation in Antarctica, agriculture, health and pharmaceuticals and consular issues were all evaluated,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said.
While the Indian side was led by Ms Riva Ganguly Das, Secretary (East) and other senior officials, the Chilean side was led by Ms Carolina Valdivia Torres, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Also discussed during the meeting was the fight against the global pandemic COVID-19 and how the two countries could deepen their partnerships in post-pandemic economic recovery.
According to a top diplomat, “Post-COVID-19 this is the first in-person meeting. Last year the FOC consultations could not take place due to the global shutdown due to COVID-19. The focus of talks was on renewable energy, Lithium, solar energy as well as building relations in Science and Technology and StartUps.”
“In general we are trying to expand our agenda for cooperation in various sectors. Trade is important in our relationship and we are expecting to have our next round of negotiations for further expansion of the existing Preferential Trade Agreement next month,” said the top diplomat quoted above.
According to the diplomat the third round of technical negotiations will take place virtually in October 6-7, 2021. Due to COVID restrictions in the South American nation, the meeting cannot be in person.
Investments & Services to be included?
The two sides have been negotiating the expansion of the existing India-Chile PTA and in the next round negotiations Chile is keen on including investments and services.
India and Chilean companies are trying to get into the services area as the present PTA has goods only.
India is negotiating with the South American nation for the second expansion of the already present PTA which can help in further deepening and widening the agreement. Both sides have exchanged their respective lists, as was decided in the last meeting. Unfortunately, because of the global pandemics the talks were delayed. And now the two sides are in discussions for expanding the PTA further as this will help in enhancing the trade and give a boost to investments and other ventures. The South American country is also India’s fifth-largest trading partner in the region.
As has been reported by Financial Express Online earlier, the two sides have already shared their wish lists and from the Chile side around 2,000 tariff lines in goods has gone up to around 5,000 tariff lines. And the bilateral trade has touched USD 2.2 billion. Besides copper and molybdenum which account for almost half of the total export to India, agro products including dried /fresh fruits, kiwis, blueberry, poultry, and meats are coming from Chile.
Last March, the two countries had inked an agreement to avoid double taxation and has yet to be passed by the Chilean government before it can be enforced. The two are also discussing a Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty.
Both countries are celebrating 72 years of diplomatic relations and have been exploring new sectors for deepening bilateral relations. As far as trade is concerned in the LAC region, Chile is the only country which has a PTA with India which was signed in 2006 and was expanded the first time in 2017.
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