Chile’s Bachelet, Abe vow to boost trade with EPA

by Reiji Yoshida

Visiting Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Monday to further promote trade between the two countries, hailing an economic partnership agreement that has now gone into force.

Bachelet said Chile expects much from the free-trade agreement, saying it will boost Chilean exports to Japan and create 50,000 jobs.

The EPA, signed by the two countries in March and taking effect Monday, will eliminate tariffs within 10 years on 92 percent of bilateral trade in terms of value.

“I believe the EPA will start fully functioning in several years,” Bachelet told a joint news conference with Abe at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

The two leaders described the EPA as “one of the most important instruments concluded between Japan and Chile throughout their 110 years of friendly relations.”

Bachelet said Chile now needs to learn more about Japan. That is why she brought with her to Tokyo more than 100 business leaders, in addition to foreign and economic ministers and members of both chambers of the Chilean parliament, she said.

Chile is Japan’s largest trading partner in South America. Japan’s imports from Chile totaled ¥565.4 billion in 2005, while exports to Chile reached ¥104 billion.