Two-way trade hits $3.9 bil
TRADE statistics between Chile and Hong Kong are the sort of thing that make government trade officials rub their hands in glee.
The territory's total exports (including re-exports from China) to Valparaiso and other ports leapt 43 per cent (to $3.5 billion) in 1994 and, in the first months of this year, spurted a further 58 per cent on top of the earlier impressive figures.
Re-exports, almost all from China, soared 48 per cent last year and the first few months of 1995 saw them rocket a further 61 per cent.
The startling figures bear out claims by economic planners and trade boosters on either side of the Pacific that Hong Kong and Chile complement each other's roles.
Chile is the gateway to Latin America for Hong Kong's manufactured goods, from domestic plants and Hong Kong-owned factories in China, while the territory is the channel through which much of South American trade is shipped from Chilean ports to China.
Both sides benefit.
Chile ranks 32nd as a purchaser of Hong Kong goods, a position which is certain to change radically in the near future, according to Trade Commissioner Guillermo Garrido.
Major export items include textiles, garments, toys, radios, footwear, watches and telecommunications equipment.
This last item is vital for a country which is forging ahead to become the computer, communications and hi-tech capital of the continent.
In return, Hong Kong buys processed food (largely seafood) - worth $320 million last year - copper, chemicals, wood and paper products, leather, wool and minor electronic equipment.
The flow of trade is vastly in Hong Kong's favour; with total two-way trade last year of $3.9 billion, the territory exported domestic goods worth $1.4 billion and imported products worth about a quarter as much, $522 million.
Trade Commissioner Garrido sees room to level these figures, especially in imports of food, wine, wood and paper products and key manufactured goods.
Hong Kong's Trade Development Council lists Chile as having an expanding economic climate with political stability and slowing rate of inflation.