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China to become main importer of Chilean foodstuffs: diplomat

Source:   Time:

SANTIAGO, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- China will become Chile's main importer of foodstuffs in a decade, Chilean ambassador to China Jorge Heine wrote in a Chilean newspaper Tuesday.

Chile currently rivals the United States in exporting foodstuffs to China and "there aren't too many markets in which Chile competes head to head with the United States," said Heine in an article published in Chilean daily El Mercurio's blogs section, titled "Chile as a food power and the China challenge."

A recent visit to China by a delegation of Chilean private-sector producers, headed by Agriculture Minister Carlos Furche, "underscored (China's) interest in our foods," said Heine.

"Chinese consumers are increasingly opting for healthy foods. And that's where Chilean products come in," said Heine.

Heine said China is already Chile's main trading partner, with exports to China in 2013 registering 19 billion U.S. dollars, up from around 5 billion dollars in 2005, when the two nations signed a free trade agreement.

Most of Chile's revenues from trade with China come from copper sales, "but it is foodstuffs that have seen the greatest growth, and now offer the greatest potential," said Heine.

In 2013, Chile surpassed the United States in fresh fruit sales to China, which were valued at some 543 million dollars, he said.

Chile has also become China's second-largest wine exporter, only behind France, while salmon sales have rapidly expanded and show "great future potential," said Heine.

Currently the world's 17th biggest exporter of foodstuffs, Chile aims to be among the top 10 by 2020, and "China will be key to that goal," he said.

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