Beijing : Chile is set to join China's mammoth global investment programme, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Chilean Foreign Minister announced during a business forum here on Thursday.
Roberto Ampuero said Chile will sign a memorandum of understanding on Friday with the Chinese government to advance and develop the BRI in the context of bilateral relations.
"It is a very important decision, also much anticipated by China, which was taken by (Chilean) President Sebastian Pinera," Ampuero told Efe news during the inauguration of a "Chilean Week" in China.
The minister said that the BRI was an additional element to strengthen comprehensive bilateral relations, which opens tremendous prospects of cooperation, especially in infrastructure.
Ampuero dismissed the doubts expressed by some countries about joining the BRI -- due to the fear of their interests being dependent on Beijing -- by saying that Chile thoroughly analyzes agreements and only signed when it was convinced that the pact was in the country's interests.
He added that China was Chile's main trade ally and said that Santiago was interested in strengthening these ties in different spheres.
"One of the areas where we agree with China is defending multilateralism and free, open and transparent markets," the minister said, adding that the BRI will help them work at a better rhythm and within a broader conceptual framework.
Chile's annual trade with China is worth nearly $35 billion, which amounts to around 26-27 per cent of Chile's total foreign trade.
Trade between the two countries has grown 37 per cent this year.