The EU and Chile have started negotiations in Brussels for the renewal of the Association Agreement. The first round was held in November and the Commission subsequently launched a consultation aimed at the sectors affected in order to find out their opinions on the issue. This process is planned to conclude on 19 February.
The objective of the negotiations is to modernise the Association Agreement signed fourteen years ago. According to the European Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, "Chile is the oldest EU trade partner in Latin America and a key ally. In fact, the current agreement has led to a substantial increase in trade flows between both parties over the last decade and a half." After the first round of negotiations, a non-public consultation has been opened, directed exclusively to the affected sectors, which can be accessed through this link:http://trade.ec.europa.eu/consultations/index.cfm?consul_id=247
According to FEPEX, the opportunities offered by Chile to the entire fruit and vegetable sector have been very limited, with minimal export flows, despite the fact that the production schedules complement one another. In 2016, the export of fruit and vegetables from Spain to Chile amounted to 21 tonnes worth 32,000 Euro, according to data from the Department of Customs and Special Taxes of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
As for Spain's direct import of fruits and vegetables, in 2016 it stood at 50,470 tonnes, 13% more than in 2015, worth 79.6 million Euro, 21% more than in 2015. There has been a gradual growth of Spanish fruit and vegetable imports from Chile in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but the volumes have been lower than in 2011 and 2012, when 79,694 tonnes and 78,318 tonnes were imported, respectively.
Chile has a population of 18 million inhabitants and is a country with a strong fruit growing potential. The acreage devoted to fruit production in this country amounts to 294,000 hectares. The sector produces about 5 million tonnes of fruit, 2.6 million of which are exported. Chile is the leading fruit exporter in the southern hemisphere and the world's leading exporter of table grapes and blueberries, according to data from the Office of Agricultural Studies and Policies, Odepa; an institution under the Ministry of Agriculture of Chile. In recent years, there has also been an important commitment on the part of the country's authorities to the fruit and vegetable sector. A National Fruits and Vegetables Day was set on 18 October and the promotion of Chilean fruit in Europe is being boosted with big image and communication campaigns. Chile is also looking for new markets in Asia. Last February, it started to export nectarines to China, where other fruits such as cherries, fresh grapes and blueberries are already being shipped.
As for the vegetable sector in Chile, it has not expanded as much as fruit, with a total of 69,845 hectares in 2016 and a 9.5% increase compared to 2015. The vegetables with the largest acreage are corn, lettuce and tomatoes for fresh consumption, representing 14%, 10% and 7% of the total, respectively, according to data from the National Statistics Institute of Chile and the Office of Agricultural Policies and Studies.
The US is the biggest market for the Chilean fruit and vegetable exporting sector, followed by the EU. Spain accounts for between 7% and 8% of all Chilean exports to the EU and stands behind the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy, which are Chile's main importers in the EU.