China has now become the main destination for Chilean farm products, with fruit, wine and salmon among the main items of Chilean agricultural exports to China, data from the Agriculture Ministry and other government agencies show.
The sustained growth of the Chinese economy has led to a constant need for foodstuffs. This demand has increased now as China is changing its economic model to favor domestic consumption.
In 2014, the commercial exchanges between the two sides topped 34 billion U.S. dollars. China is now the third-largest market for Chilean foodstuffs, after the U.S. and Japan.
The free-trade agreement between Chile and China, signed in 2005, has facilitated exports to China. Chileans sold foodstuffs with a value of 78.4 million U.S. dollars in 2003, and the number rocketed to 1.273 billion U.S. dollars in 2014.
Now, 11 percent of all Chilean fruit exports goes to China, along with 17 percent of processed foods, 4 percent of wine and 3 percent of salmon. China is now the third-largest market for Chilean fruit, the fifth for wine and the sixth for salmon.
A total of 646 Chilean companies were doing business with China in 2015, including 274 small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ a large portion of the Chilean work force.
The great challenge now is to diversify farm exports, so that fresh products can reach cities across China in good condition.
Furthermore, Chile is now looking to make heavy investments in the agricultural sector, often in cooperation with Chinese companies, in order to boost productivity.
The visit to Chile last year by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang helped to boost commercial links between the two countries.
Both countries are also seeking to boost food fairs and gastronomic tourism options to help Chilean exporters reach Chinese buyers.
Chile has also displayed a keen interest in attracting Chinese investments, especially after China Construction Bank opened its offices in the country.
Over 100 Chilean entrepreneurs visited Beijing and Shanghai for the Week of Chile in China on the occasion of 45 years of bilateral relations in 2015. The momentum of such exchanges is expected to continue in 2016.