U.S., Chile Agree on Lowering Trade Barriers; Pact Requires Approval of Lawmakers in Washington, Santiago to Take effect.(BUSINESS)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 12, 2002 | Go to article overview

U.S., Chile Agree on Lowering Trade Barriers; Pact Requires Approval of Lawmakers in Washington, Santiago to Take effect.(BUSINESS)


Byline: Jeffrey Sparshott, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The United States and Chile yesterday completed an agreement to lower trade barriers and safeguard investments.

The free-trade pact is the United States' first with a South American country and adds momentum to the drive for a hemispheric trade pact, said U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick.

The agreement must be approved by lawmakers in Washington and Santiago before it takes effect.

"The U.S.-Chile free-trade partnership extends beyond this agreement - we are both working hard together to advance global trade negotiations and the Free Trade Area of the Americas," Mr. Zoellick said at a press conference yesterday.

Thirty-four countries are negotiating the FTAA. The United States and Brazil are often seen as presenting competing models as countries negotiate the agreement. Both countries want to establish trade positions and win adherents to those positions throughout the region.

Under the deal with Chile, tariffs on more than 85 percent of consumer and industrial products traded between the countries would be eliminated immediately. Most remaining tariffs would be phased out in another four years and all tariffs would be cut to zero during a 12-year span, Mr. Zoellick said.

"It not only slashes tariffs, it reduces barriers for services, protects leading-edge intellectual property, keeps pace with new technologies, ensures regulatory transparency and provides effective labor and environmental enforcement," Mr. Zoellick said.

Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear, also at the press conference, said the agreement would allow Chile to become "a platform for investment."

The U.S. Trade Representative's Office did not release the detailed, 800-page agreement; text is still being finalized. But an outline indicated that U.S. exports of agricultural and construction equipment, autos and auto parts, computers, medical equipment and paper products would immediately be of benefit.

The United States' biggest exports to Chile so far this year include parts and accessories for computers, radio equipment, construction equipment, gas turbines and fertilizers. …

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