Parliamentary Secretary for Trade Kelvin Thomson is in Chile and Colombia this week for a series of talks and to take part in the Ministerial Summit of the Pacific Alliance.
Mr Thomson will represent the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness Craig Emerson, at the Ministerial Summit, to be held in Cali, Colombia.
The summit will be hosted by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and involve political leaders from Pacific Alliance member states as well as observer nations. The Pacific Alliance was founded in 2011 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru and is committed to liberalising and harmonising member countries' economies and markets.
This will be Australia's inaugural participation in the summit since becoming an observer late last year. Australia is keen to step up its engagement with Latin America, and to act as a connecting rod between its Pacific economies and Asia.
Pacific Alliance members have a combined GDP of around A$2 trillion.
"The outward-looking Pacific Alliance is a welcome new forum for pursuing stronger economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region and is a priority for Australia's engagement with Latin America," Mr Thomson said.
"The rapid development of the Alliance is important, and we see a great opportunity for Australia to act as a partner between these market-oriented economies of Latin America and the growing markets of Asia."
En route to the Cali summit, Mr Thomson will meet senior Chilean officials, as well as Australian and Chilean business representatives, in Santiago.
"This visit to Chile will be a further boost to our bilateral engagement, building on President Piñera's successful visit to Australia in September 2012," he said.
Australia has a major business presence in Chile and significant investment, particularly in the mining and energy sectors.
"The business environment in Chile continues to provide outstanding opportunities for Australian businesses and investors," Mr Thomson said.
"The economic relationship, underpinned by an effective free trade agreement, has been boosted by the recent entry into force of a double-tax agreement."
In 2012, two-way trade between Australia and Chile totalled A$2.14 billion and Australian investment in Chile amounted to A$2.7 billion. Over 90 Australian companies are active in Chile, as well as several Australian universities and CSIRO.
- Parliamentary Secretary's Office: (02) 6277 4633
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