China and Chile officially launched negotiations Tuesday to establish a free trade area (FTA) between the two countries.
On the first meeting of the Trade Negotiation Committee of China-Chile FTA, China and Chile began to outline the negotiation by laying out the sectors, contents and timetable of the talks, and exchange views on trade of goods, service and investment.
Though it is still uncertain about when the FTA will be set up, the officials of the two sides are optimistic about an early date.
Zhu Hong, deputy director of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce, said that China and Chile will hold related meetings every three months.
"The whole process of the negotiation will not last too long," Zhu said.
Carlos Fruche G., director general for International Economic Relations of Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also said that "the negotiation will advance smoothly."
During Chinese President Hu Jintao's visits to Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Cuba last November, he and Chilean leaders declared the startup of Sino-Chilean FTA talks.
The FTA talks will not only benefit China and Chile, but further promote economic and trade cooperation between China and Latin American area, experts said.
Trade between China and Latin America increased nearly six times from 1993 to 2003.
In 2003, trade between China and Latin America countries amounted to 26.8 billion US dollars. Latin America is enjoying trade surplus with China, with Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Panama as China's top five trade partners in the region, according to Chinese customs.
China-Chile trade also reached 5.365 billion US dollars in 2004, up about 50 percent year-on-year. China mainly exports textile and high-tech products, footwear and toys, and imports copper and copper products, paper pulp, fishmeal, iron products and saltpeter,Chinese figures show.