Caricom and Foreign Affairs minister Dr Amery Browne said the signing of the general framework agreement for the partial scope trade agreement between TT and Chile will allow for deepening, widening and enhancing of bilateral ties between the two countries.
Speaking during the ceremony on Tuesday, Browne said the signing of the agreement represents four years of active discussions, negotiations and compromise.
“It also symbolises a pledge on the part of both countries to continue working assiduously towards the finalisation of the substantive partial scope trade agreement. From my time as TT’s chief negotiator in the discussions leading up to where we are today, I am personally aware of the concerted efforts made by all parties to bring us to this stage of the process."
He thanked Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and her team for their input, as well as Chilean Ambassador Juan Anibal Barria Garcia.
“TT is truly grateful for your sustained pursuit of our shared objective, as it reassures us that the significant value we place on our relationship with Chile, one of our most important trading partners in Latin America, is reciprocated in kind.”
Gopee-Scoon, in the feature address, said the agreement will allow TT’s exports to enter the Chilean market of over 19 million people at preferential rates of duties.
“Imports of selected inputs into manufacturing and consumer goods will have reduced duty. This agreement will also seek to eliminate non-tariff barriers and foster co-operation between the countries in mutual areas of interest, including trade facilitation and electronic trade.”
She said the completion of negotiations and the eventual implementation of the agreement will fulfil one of the key objectives identified in the TT Trade Policy 2019-2023, namely to increase market access and penetration for TT’s exports, and meet the goal of growing market share within traditional and non-traditional markets.
“With this arrangement, TT aims to diversify exports to the Chilean market, which have primarily been dominated by energy products and also to increase export values. TT and Chile share a strong trading relationship, with the trade balance traditionally favouring TT. This is evidenced by the fact that over the last five years, we exported on average $2.1 billion worth of goods per year to Chile, with annual imports averaging approximately $144 million.”
Negotiations are expected to start before the end of 2020.
Garcia said TT and Chile have an excellent bilateral relationship as “our political dialogue is frank, honest and transparent, our convergences are much. We appreciate the same values and principles, particularly our common belief in democracy and the respect of the rule of law.
He said bridges which link the two countries are technical co-operation in diverse fields and trade.
“Our purpose is to expand and find new niches for playing. Your country faces a relevant challenge such as how to diversify your exporting offer and your energy matrix or how you can use solar energy, and Chile is willing and available to contribute and co-operate with TT in those areas."
Garcia said Chile and TT are countries of medium income which adhere to the open economy and free-trade approaches.
‘In a world with growing barriers, obstacles and protectionism policies, this future partial scope agreement between Chile and TT represents an additional coincidence on our public policies. This first step is a relevant one as it means the beginning of a formal and concrete process that Chile and TT take seriously.”