Chile expects growth in trade with China thanks to economic rebound
Published: Dec 09, 2020 09:09 AM

A farmer is showing cherries at Finca Chicauma, in Santiago, Chile on December 5, 2019.(Photo: Xinhua)

Chilean businesses and government officials expect to see a big economic dividend from growing exports to China next year despite the disruption from the global pandemic, the Global Times learned.

At a promotional event organized by the Chilean Embassy in Beijing on Tuesday, Chilean exporters of products ranging from wine to aquatic food and fruit showed great enthusiasm for connecting with Chinese partners and consumers as both sides see a rising need for closer cooperation.

"Despite the pandemic, the trade between China and Chile has been growing," Natalia Cortes Garcia, trade commissioner of ProChile Beijing, one of the hosts of the event, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Since the FTA between the two countries was signed in 2006, growth in trade has averaged 14 percent per year, said Garcia.

"For us, the Chinese market continues to be a driver of the Chilean economy and 36 percent of our exports go directly to China, ranging from food to forestry and mining," said Garcia.

As one of the most important Chilean exports, wine suppliers see China as their number one market and it still has more potential despite the pandemic. They are also enthusiastic about using e-commerce more effectively.

Nicolai Samsing, Asia director of Wines of Chile Asia, told the Global Times that the trade volume of Chilean wines sold in the Chinese market via e-commerce grew around 20 percent from January to June.

"We know that e-commerce is the future for wine in China, which is great because it is very easy for wineries to put their wine on sale via big e-commerce platforms such as and Tmall and distribute them all across China," said Samsing, adding that there has also been cooperation with local wineries in China on wine knowledge and education.

China has been the most important market for Chilean wine for three years, although this year's exports have not been as good as the previous year because of the pandemic, industry insiders said.

Chile's exports to China reached $20.59 billion for January 1, 2020 to October 31, with year-on-year growth of 12.7 percent, according to data from the Chilean customs.

However, pandemic has affected some sectors more than others.

New World Currents, an international salmon supplier, imported 8,500 metric tons in 2019, but this year the figure is expected to be around 5,000 metric tons, a drop of around 40 percent.

The reduction in imports is due to the drop in public consumption after some imported coronavirus cases were found in the cold chain process.

Nicolas Terrazas, managing director of New World Currents, told the Global Times that the products need to be carefully inspected.

Terrazas said that while other countries are more flexible with virus control, China's strategy is zero tolerance, which has controlled the virus very effectively, and this has helped the market to rebound.

In order to avoid problems, Chilean exporters are improving sanitary conditions in factories.

"The sanitary measures we are taking now are not new but have been reinforced because of the pandemic and the need for traceability," said Garcia.

Meanwhile, business representatives and authorities are all optimistic about the bilateral trade for next year as the Chinese economy continues to grow.

"When China goes good, Chile will go better, because so much of our exports come to China, and we expect 15-20 percent growth in our exports to China next year," said Garcia.