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The Commercial Relationship Between Chile and China and the Migratory Processes

María Elena Reyes's picture
Published: 20/05/19 - Country: Chile

Notwithstanding that the commercial relationship between both countries is long-standing (almost 50 years of years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations), the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Chile and the People's Republic of China (2006) further strengthened relations. Especially considering that it was the first instrument that China signed with these characteristics. Then, in 2018, a new milestone takes place in this economic and commercial relationship, the approval of the Senate to modernize the FTA. Chile becomes the first country in the world to deepen an FTA with the Asian giant.

On the other hand, according to the information provided by the Department of Immigration and Migration, in its last published statistical yearbook (2015), the Chinese community is the only one from the Asian continent among the ten most important foreign communities in the country (next to Peru). , Colombia, Bolivia, Haiti, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Spain and the United States). This group represents 1.6% of the total population of migrants (2,709 people); and 1.7% of the total population of migrants who were granted the Permanent Permanence (842 persons). In sum, in recent years Chinese citizens have obtained more than six thousand visas. Although, it constitutes an important percentage, it is still not consistent with the strong Chinese investment in our country in recent years. Which leads us to ask why the situation, together with the changes of recent years to make easier the mobility between both countries.

For years, Asian immigration, and particularly China, has been much more closed than the rest of the immigrants from America, Europe or Africa. The foregoing, both on a personal and governmental level, which in the end led to the same reaction of reciprocity on the part of Chile and other countries. In recent years, and certainly in line with the commercial relationship with our country, there has been an opening of Chinese migration policies, at least at the level of Tourism Visa.

China wants to become a recognized tourist destination, and there is no doubt about its potential. According to South China Morning Post figures, during the first half of 2017, 62.03 million Chinese made trips abroad. However, 14.25 million people traveled to China from abroad. The measure adopted by China is still interesting: Chile and 52 other countries can enter China without a visa for short stays (no more than six days). The foregoing is limited to Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. The measure also facilitates entry for business reasons. Obviously there is a goal of integrating the economies of these areas, but it is a hopeful opening considering the current process of applying for tourism and business visas, which unfortunately is slow, bureaucratic and with long waiting times. Just mention that for the visa application process at the Embassy of China in Santiago, it is recommended to process the Visa in advance of 45 or 30 days, in a procedure that should last 5 days, foreseeing problems with documents and long waits (only some people are served per day, in order of arrival, with limited hours and reduced to three days a week).

On the other hand, in July 2015, the Governments of Chile and China signed an agreement to reciprocally eliminate the collection of tourist visas for nationals of both countries, which also seeks to encourage reciprocal flows of tourism, trade and investment . Without prejudice to this, it does not eliminate or simplify consular procedures, which undoubtedly constitutes the main challenge.

Chile, with the intention of advancing its relations with Asia and promoting greater mobility among nationals of both countries, has authorized certain Chinese citizens to enter the country without a Tourism Visa, if they have valid US or Canadian visas. more than six months, (transit visas do not qualify). This is also a milestone, it is the first time that Chile has reduced its visa requirements, and for a specific nationality.

Additionally, Chile and Argentina approve visas to Chinese tourists since January 2019, through an agreement of the reciprocal recognition of visas to Chinese tourists, with the purpose of ending the border obstacles between neighboring countries. In other words, if the Chinese citizen has a visa for Chile, he can also travel through Argentina and vice versa.

Finally, to evade consular procedures, there is the option of using the APEC Business Travel Card or APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) that provides mobility to business travelers throughout the Asia-Pacific region, which includes the People's Republic of China For processing, among other requirements, it is essential to prove that you belong to a public or private organization related to economic activities.

All of the above, without a doubt, are excellent measures, but clearly they do not completely solve the asymmetry between the commercial relations between both countries and the migration issues. Residence visas are not included among the measures adopted, so the nationals of both countries must still carry out the procedures in the respective consulates, with all that entails. A new immigration legislation is still pending in Chile one year after the presentation of the bill (not only for China, but for all nationalities). While there are no changes in the matter, a good management of the requests is crucial, but taking into consideration that the migratory aspects, are still a debt of this long relationship.

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María Elena Reyes's picture

Her legal practice on Labor and Immigration Law is covers permamnet assistance on labor legal matters, such us hiring and firing employees, labor subcontracting and advise Human Resources Departments; professional illness, labor litigation. She has also broad experience on labor audits.
On Immigration matters, she has specialized advising foreign and local clients on Visa processes and Labor Permits. Our Immigration Law assistance covers all the aspects of the foreigner in Chile.