BEIJING – Chile on Thursday decorated the deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization, who is a Chinese national, for his role in the negotiation of the free trade agreement between Beijing and Santiago.
The recognition given to Yi Xiaozhun comes at a moment when the two countries are in talks about widening the ambit of the treaty.
The Chilean ambassador in China, Jorge Heine, awarded the Gran Cruz de la Orden de Bernardo O’Higgins (Grand Cross of the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins) to Yi, who was the top Chinese negotiator in the free trade agreement that was wrapped up in 2005, for his contribution towards their bilateral relations.
Heine underlined the importance of the existing agreement and the current negotiation for widening its ambit at a moment when, according to him, free trade and globalization are being questioned by certain parties.
He recalled that during the negotiations, a lot of people in Chile were critical and feared that the country would be flooded with Chinese trinkets.
The treaty was sealed in Oct. 2005 and came into effect a year later.
Since then, China has become Chile’s largest trade partner; in 2016, Chile became the largest exporter to fruits to the Asian country.
Yi, on his part recalled his positive experience during the negotiations and stressed on the rapid pace of growth in bilateral trade after the free trade agreement came into force.