Chile is “very interested” in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), President Sebastian Pinera said on Tuesday.
During a meeting with foreign correspondents in Santiago, President Pinera confirmed he will attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing in April, saying “I will participate in everything that is beneficial for Chile.”
Chile’s need for more advanced infrastructure for better connection with trade partners in Latin America and other parts of the world fits the BRI well. The BRI aims to strengthen the connectivity across the globe, much like the ancient Silk Road that inspired the initiative.
With that in mind, President Pinera said he was in talks with neighbouring Argentina and Brazil over the construction of an undersea fibre optic cable connecting Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. The nearly 1 billion-U.S. dollar mega project entails 22,000 km of cables.
Additionally, China’s growth benefits many countries including Chile, as Chinese consumers with increasing purchasing power drive their exports, he said.
Chile has also been a passionate client of China’s environmentally-friendly electric vehicles and buses, which could modernise urban transit networks in Santiago and other major cities, President Pinera noted.
The South American country values its “good relationship” with China, its leading trade partner, said the President.
In 2005, Chile became the first Latin American country to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, and in 2019, it became the first country in the region to update its trade agreement China. Chile’s Foreign Affairs Ministry reports that since the FTA took effect in 2006, more than 97 percent of Chilean goods have been able to access China’s market free of tax.