Chile proposes FTA, India hesitant

April 22nd, 2008 - 1:53 pm ICT by admin  

By Liz Mathew
Santiago, April 22 (IANS) India and Chile can enter into a free trade agreement (FTA), suggested Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. But Indian officials are not sure if this is the best way to better trade ties. Speaking after signing four agreements with India - on air services, science and technology, sports and cooperation in Antarctica - at the palace of La Moneda, Bachelet said Chile was open to a FTA with India.

Bachelet said her country could be a hub for the Indian business community in Latin America because Chile had the necessary infrastructure to do business in this continent.

But Indian officials, who briefed the media after the signing of the agreements, did not appear to take up the FTA offer.

“It is one of the several options we have. We already have the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) working wonderfully and we will have to take it forward,” said Nalin Surie, secretary (West) in the Indian external affairs ministry.

“It could be FTA or extension of PTA,” Surie said.

The bilateral trade of $2.4 billion between India and Chile got a boost with the signing of the PTA in 2006.

Under PTA, India gives tariff preferences on 178 Chilean items while Chile cuts duties on 296. The agreement was expected to mature into a fuller FTA and become a signpost for other Latin American countries.

Chile is the first country in Latin America India signed a PTA with. Chile has signed pacts with over 40 other nations.

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