USTR Zoellick & Chilean Foreign Minister Alvear Conduct First U.S.-Chile Free Trade Commission Meeting
PUCON, CHILE - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear today held the first meeting of the U.S. Chile Free Trade Commission. The recent Free Trade Agreement between the two countries calls for periodic meetings of the Commission, to oversee implementation of the agreement.
“The U.S.-Chile FTA has already expanded opportunities for the peoples of both countries. We’re seeing more and more U.S. goods flowing to Chile – that’s good for American workers and it’s also good for Chilean consumers. Americans are benefiting too – Chile is sending us more raw materials, among other goods, providing our manufacturers with the inputs they need to churn out more and more top-notch products,” Zoellick said. “This is my first opportunity to visit Chile since the FTA was negotiated. I’m pleased to build on our success and to work with Minister Alvear on pressing ahead with the ongoing WTO Doha negotiations to achieve the negotiating frameworks we need to complete the global negotiations.”
“This first meeting of the Chile-US FTA Commission is an excellent opportunity to welcome Ambassador Zoellick in Chile and make an evaluation of the initial months of our FTA. The U.S. is one of the most diversified markets for Chilean exports and our economy, our businesses, and our workers have been benefitting from the FTA. During the first quarter of 2004, Chilean exports to the US grew by 11%, reaching a total of US$ 1.309 million. During this period, over 1200 Chilean businesses sent almost 1000 different products to the US market; 48% of these exports were industrial products,” said Minister Alvear.
Joint U.S.-Chilean Statement First Meeting of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade CommissionPucon, Chile
June 3, 2004
Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear welcomed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to Pucon for the first meeting of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Commission today. The U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force in January of this year, calls for periodic meetings of the Free Trade Commission to oversee implementation of the agreement.
Minister Alvear and Ambassador Zoellick reviewed various aspects of the implementation of the U.S.-Chile FTA. The Agreement provides for the creation of a number of specialized committees to resolve problems, exchange information and promote trade. The Ministers concluded that good progress was being made in establishing those groups and in other technical aspects of implementation. As of January 1, 2004, tariffs on 90% of U.S. exports to Chile and 95% of Chilean exports to the United States were reduced to zero immediately, setting the stage for increased trade growth for both countries. Although it has only been in force for five months, the positive impact of the FTA is already being felt in a number of economic sectors, including new exports of heavy machinery and automobiles from the U.S. and furniture, clothing and dairy exports from Chile.
The two leaders discussed the progress to date in implementing significant programs of bilateral cooperation related to the protection of the environment and labor rights. The U.S. and Chile have already begun their first joint cooperation project, which is related to strengthening enforcement of environmental law enforcement, under the Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA). The Labor Affairs Council will meet during the second half of 2004. This meeting will formally launch the Labor Cooperation Mechanism (LCM) of the FTA, which will consider adoption of proposed labor cooperation projects.
They also took note of the boost to investor confidence in Chile provided by the FTA. Chile’s level of country risk for international finance began to decline soon after the conclusion of FTA negotiations and has remained at a lower level ever since. Chile is experiencing a strong resurgence in economic growth and investment, thanks in part to the improved market access contained in its numerous free trade agreements, including our bilateral FTA.
The broader impact of the agreement on the U.S. goal of promoting free trade has been much larger, however. The provisions of the U.S.-Chile FTA have served as points of reference for other bilateral trade negotiations in the Hemisphere and beyond, including the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Since the U.S.- Chile FTA was signed, the U.S. and Chile have worked closely with other countries committed to free trade in the Americas to achieve consensus on an ambitious and successful outcome of negotiations on the FTAA.
In addition to its relevance in the Western Hemisphere, the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement constitutes an important step toward the trade liberalization goals that Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies established in Bogor, Indonesia in 1994. Those goals call for free trade among developed member economies by 2010 and all members by 2020. The U.S. and Chile have served as leaders on trade liberalization, creating precedents and momentum that will pave the way for other economies. Ambassador Zoellick congratulated Minister Alvear on Chile’s exceptional leadership in forging trans-Pacific free trade links through its FTA with South Korea, as well as discussions with other Asian partners, including New Zealand, Singapore and China. Both ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to achieving meaningful progress this year on the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda (DDA), the most important avenue for achieving free trade in the APEC region.
Click here for a transcript of the press conference between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Soledad Alvear in Pucon, Chile.
3 June 2004