November 21, 2018 / 5:32 PM / 20 days ago

Chile and Brazil sign trade deal in boost to regional integration

Brazil's Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira and Chile's Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero sign a trade agreement along with Brazil's president Michele Temer and Chile's President Sebastian Pinera at the government house in Santiago, Chile, November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile and Brazil signed a free trade agreement on Wednesday that scraps red tape and tariffs between the two South American economies, in a move both governments said would give a boost to regional integration.

Brazil President Michel Temer traveled to Santiago to sign the deal with his counterpart, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. The agreement eliminates tariffs from 17 key areas, including service sectors and electronics, and wipes away additional cell phone charges between the two countries.

Both countries touted the deal as critical to reinforcing integration in Latin America. Chile is a member of the Pacific Alliance, which also includes Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Brazil, together with Argentina, leads Mercosur, which also includes Uruguay and Paraguay.

The agreement, which was negotiated in under 6 months, “unites the Mercosur and Pacific Alliance,” Temer said during the signing ceremony.

Trade between the two countries reached $7.2 billion dollars between January and September, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year.

Wednesday’s agreement eliminates the last remaining tariffs between the two South American economies. The majority were previously slashed as part of a complementary agreement signed between Chile and Mercosur bloc countries.

Reporting by Antonio de la Jara, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by David Gregorio

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