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Chile seeks to expand Asean ties

Publication Date : 24-12-2013


Chile has expressed interest in becoming a dialogue partner to Asean in a bid for greater political engagement with the region.

The South American nation is keen to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia as the first step to pave the way to partnership, said Christian Rehren, Chile’s non-resident ambassador to Brunei Darussalam.

“This is very important for us in terms of trade, but also because Asia has become a key player in investment in Chile,” he said, adding that China has been Chile’s top trading partner for the last five years.

Rehren recently concluded a two-day visit to the Sultanate where he discussed expanding bilateral cooperation.

The Malaysia-based envoy said that his country already has tariff-free arrangements with several Asean countries – namely Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Brunei – but that Chile seeks to engage Asean “in a more political way”.

“We want to work on more political issues with Asean, to get into the network of Asean. To be a dialogue partner, accession to the TAC – these are the kind of things we are looking for.”

However, its bid to be the first Latin American country to become an Asean dialogue partner could be overshadowed by much larger neighbour Brazil, which lodged its application last November.

Chile’s contact with Brunei and other Southeast Asian countries thus far has been limited to the APEC platform, but Santiago is seeking to expand bilateral ties with Asean countries.

It is currently in talks with Indonesia – Southeast Asia’s largest economy – to create a strategic economic partnership, an agreement that would be at a higher level than a free trade agreement, said Rehren.

“It is only with this big market that we are pushing ahead. We have an excellent relationship with Indonesia, but it’s not what it could be.”

“If you are not here (in this region), if you come late, you will definitely lose out,” Rehren said.

“This region is very fluid, very aggressive and unless you are there you could lose decades of opportunities.”



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