Chile, Brazil sign free-trade agreement

EFE

The presidents of Chile and Brazil on Wednesday presided over the signing of a free-trade deal that was concluded in just six months.

"I think that few free-trade agreements in the world have been launched, negotiated and signed in such a short period," Chilean President Sebastian Piñera told reporters at the presidential palace in Santiago alongside Brazilian counterpart Michel Temer .

The countries' foreign ministers, Chile's Roberto Ampuero and Brazil's Aloysio Nunes, signed the agreement.

Piñera and Temer pledged on April 27 in Brasilia to negotiate a free-trade deal that would deepen trade relations and accompany the Economic Complementation Agreement that currently links Chile and Mercosur, a trade bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The agreement consists of 23 chapters and covers nine areas, including telecommunications, cybersecurity, the environment and cooperation in Antarctica.

Two additional chapters also will be added to the accord, one of which will allow Chilean companies to compete in bidding processes on equal terms with local service providers.

Piñera also noted that the agreement eliminated international roaming charges between the two countries, an aspect of the deal that could give a boost to tourism.

Roughly 500,000 Brazilian tourists visit Chile each year, while 300,000 Chileans travel to Brazil annually.

"This is an agreement that goes beyond strictly economic aspects. It also seeks to bring together and integrate our countries from the point of view of culture, political cooperation, and solving problems such as global warming," Piñera said.

Chile's president recalled that Brazil is his country's leading trade partner and the main destination of Chilean foreign direct investment.

Trade between the two countries amounted to $8.5 billion in 2017, up 22 percent from the previous year, and totaled $7.2 billion between January and September of 2018, a 13 percent increase from the same period of last year.

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