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Li’s final stop aims to strengthen China-Chile ties

Chile was Premier Li Keqiang’s final leg of his Latin American tour, where he met with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, as China and Chile aim to broaden their economic ties.

Premier Li and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet marked 45 years of China-Chile economic cooperation with a handshake on May 25 in Santiago.

Chile was the first South American country to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1970, a foundation laid by former President Salvador Allende. China and Chile hope to use their shared history to build a global strategic partnership.

Since the signing of a free trade agreement in 2005, commerce between these two countries has grown substantially — totaling more than 34 billion dollars last year. China now accounts for a quarter of Chile’s exports, the country’s biggest trading partner.

Chile’s copper has been a key part of that growth for China. The industry has opened the door to Chinese companies wanting to expand ties, not just in trade, but also investments in other industries including wind farms and mining.

While trade between China and Chile has grown rapidly, the two countries are gradually diversifying and moving away from the heavy reliance on copper exports.

“Chile needs a strategy to attract investments from China. There are a number of possibilities including improving infrastructure that would help the country develop,” said Isabel Rodriguez, Universidad Del Desarollo.

China and Chile are expected to sign an agreement to prevent double taxation in trade as well as open a branch of the China Construction Bank.

Given the potential growth in Chilean agriculture, fishery and forestry, the two countries hope to strengthen their economic ties.