2 and 4 December 2003

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release: Continued trade liberalization has made Chile’s economy one of the most open and resilient

This third Trade Policy Review of Chile has been highly informative. Through our dialogue with the Chilean delegation we have obtained a better understanding of the trade-related policies and practices in place and of changes affecting them over the last six years. We owe this in considerable measure to the presence of a large Chilean delegation, led by Vice-Minister Rosales and Ambassador Jara, to the incisive comments of our discussant, Ambassador Groser, and to the active involvement of many Members.

Members expressed support for Chile's liberalization policies since its last Review in 1997. They welcomed Chile's generally transparent and sector-neutral trade policies, sound macroeconomic strategy and strong progress in reducing poverty. Chile's economy has thereby become more resilient and closely integrated into global markets, which allowed it to cope well with a number of external shocks over the last six years.

The various autonomous, preferential and multilateral initiatives Chile has taken to liberalize its trade and investment regimes have been key elements in its economic strategy. Members highlighted Chile's active and constructive participation in the multilateral trading system, but encouraged it to improve predictability by enhancing its tariff and service commitments in WTO. Members sought further information on preferential initiatives, with some also raising concerns about the increased complexity and effects on third parties of Chile's growing number of preferential agreements.

Members noted Chile's almost uniform applied MFN tariff, and welcomed the unilateral steps to reduce it to 6%. However, a number of Members expressed concerns about possible distortions induced by the price band system, which grants special protection to a small number of agricultural goods. Several Members also requested details on changes to bring the system into compliance with Chile's WTO obligations.

Questions were posed on customs procedures and valuation, with some Members suggesting that Chile effect improvements and notify its legal framework to the WTO. Members requested information on other measures affecting imports, such as domestic taxes, contingency measures and technical regulations. Members also sought clarification on the omnibus law on WTO compliance; the foreign investment regime; incentive schemes; state-owned enterprises; government procurement; specific activities such as electricity, maritime transport and financial services; and the protection of intellectual property rights.

On sectoral policies, Members highlighted the sharp contrast between Chile's general aim to foster efficiency through sector-neutral policies, and the high assistance granted to the sugar industry. They also sought information on other primary industries and on several service activities.

This brings us to the conclusion of our Review of Chile. I was encouraged to hear that trade policy is at the heart of Chile's development strategy, and that further reforms are sought through a multi-dimensional strategy that has WTO at its core. A process of continuous reforms has served Chile's interests well, and I trust Chile will continue to take advantage of the multilateral trading system to lock-in past changes, and as a catalyst for future reforms. This will of course depend in good part on the success of our collective efforts in the ongoing Doha Development Agenda, to which I note Chile is making a very valuable contribution.