Chile's Foreign Affairs Secretary Alejandro Foxley described the formalization of a free trade pact with Australia, which was announced in Santiago and Canberra on Tuesday as very good news. The official subscription of the agreement will be signed next July by Chilean minister Foxley.
Foxley said he had spoken earlier with Australia's Federal Trade minister Simon Crean and agreed that the round of discussions, which began in August 2007 in Sydney, had officially concluded making Chile Australia's fifth free trade partner. "This is the most ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement ever signed by Australia", said Crean according to Mr Foxley. Australia already has FTA with the US, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand, but each agreement maintains protections for sensitive industries The agreement will see tariffs applying to 97% of trade being removed by January 2009, and the rest removed by 2015. Foxley also said that additionally a chapter on education cooperation and a system of scholarships for Chilean graduate students in Australian universities was included. Carlos Furche head of the Economic International relations in the Chilean Foreign Office said that bilateral trade with Australia in 2007 reached 500 million US dollars which represents a 50% hike over 2006. Furche added the agreement is particularly interesting for both countries because it includes services in vital areas such as engineering and mining. Australia is also Chile's fifth largest investor in Chile with approximately 3 billion US dollars mainly in mining, forestry and services, while Chile is Australia's main Latinamerican investor.