China remains priority market, reliable source of demand: Chilean official
Published: Jun 14, 2023 08:35 PM
Cherries imported from Chile on sale at a local market in Yichang, Central China's Hubei Province Photo: CFP

Cherries imported from Chile on sale at a local market in Yichang, Central China's Hubei Province Photo: CFP

Ignacio Fernández Ruiz Photo: Courtesy of ProChile

Ignacio Fernández Ruiz Photo: Courtesy of ProChile

China, as a reliable partner and source of demand, has proven to be a great partner for Chile, becoming the top destination for the South American country's agricultural products, and it remains a priority market, a senior Chilean government official said.

Chilean agricultural products, including cherries, blueberries and wine, have been the earliest beneficiaries of the free trade agreement (FTA) signed with China. They have tapped into the potential of the vast Chinese market. 

At the same time, Chinese manufactured products like value-for-money daily commodities and home appliances have gained popularity in the South American market.

In an exclusive written interview with the Global Times, Ignacio Fernández Ruiz, the director general of ProChile, the Chilean government's export promotion agency, highlighted China's position as an important importer of Chilean products and emphasized its role as a reliable and high-demand partner. 

He noted "That is why our goal has been oriented to fulfill our commitments, delivering quality products with high added value, based on sustainability, traceability and functionality."

Chilean customs statistics show that in 2022, Chile's exports to China amounted to $38.106 billion, accounting for 38.9 percent of the country's total exports. Since 2009, China has been Chile's largest trading partner. 

This important status is highlighted in agricultural products. For example, nearly 90 percent of Chilean cherry exports head to the Chinese market.

Fresh cherry exports from Chile in the 2022/23 season are expected to top 80 million boxes, or around 400,000 tons, according to a new estimate by the Chilean Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX).

"If realized, this would set a record for Chilean cherry exports," Charif Christian Carvajal, director of marketing for Europe, Asia and the Middle East with ASOEX, told the Global Times in a previous interview.

"The reception that cherries have had in China is undoubtedly amazing and that is thanks to a public-private system that allows us to position ourselves through a distinctive seal," Ignacio Fernández Ruiz said.

Through ProChile Offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, exporters have created alliances with important importers in the market, joining the main local and international e-commerce channels, achieving a presence in digital pavilions and giving the South American country the possibility of showing its companies and their offerings, all in one place.

"These efforts have allowed us to explore the diversification of our export basket, which today is mainly focused on food such as fresh fruit, pork, poultry and beef, as well as salmon and nuts," Ignacio Fernández Ruiz said.

The strong China-Chile trade is fueled by the early signing of the FTA based on high-level trust and understanding for mutual benefits. 

The FTA was signed in November 2005 and began to take effect in October 2006, the first FTA that China signed with a Latin American country and the second China signed with other countries across the world.

In March 2019, the upgraded FTA took effect, fully unleashing the potential of the bilateral trade relationship.

"We are deeply grateful for the trust that China has placed in us. We started as an exporter of raw materials and food, but today, little by little, we have become a reliable supplier of high value-added exports," the director general said.