The UK and Chile have signed a bilateral trade continuity agreement aimed at safeguarding exporters from the impacts of Britain’s upcoming departure from the European Union.
British Ambassador to Chile Jamie Bowden and Chilean Foreign Relations Minister Roberto Ampuero signed the deal during a ceremony in the Chilean capital Santiago.
A release from the Chilean Government said the agreement mimics the conditions of the current trade deal that Chile has with the EU.
The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, but as yet it has not reached a deal with the economic bloc to govern its relationship once it leaves.
“We have achieved a positive solution amid a scenario which could have become quite a complex situation,” Ampuero said.
The deal will “protect bilateral trade, Chilean exporters, and most of all, protect jobs,” he added. “With this, Chile becomes the first country in the world to sign a deal of this type with the UK, an insurance policy for our exporters.”
Meanwhile, Bowden described the signing as a “hugely important milestone”.
“The UK and Chile enjoy a long-lasting trade relationship. The UK is still working to achieve an agreement with the European Union on the terms of our departure. The success of those talks will determine whether the current EU-Chile agreement ceases to apply to the UK at the end of March this year, or at the end of an Implementation Period,” he said.
“In either scenario, the agreement we have signed today means that there will be no disruption to UK-Chile trade as the UK leaves the EU.”
The agreement also includes a “series of instruments to amplify and modernise its coverage”, the Chilean Government said.
“This new agreement contains a general evolutionary clause to ensure that every two years discussions will take place on how the trade relationship can be improved,” said Rodrigo Yáñez, director general of the Chilean Foreign Relations Ministry.
In 2018, bilateral trade was valued at US$1.36 billion, 19 per cent higher year-on-year. Exports from Chile grew 17 per cent and were led by fruit, wine and processed food.