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Chile, China start talks to expand trade deal

© AFP/File | The two countries agreed on trade the move during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) to Chile last year, where he is seen with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (R)

SANTIAGO (AFP) - 

Chile and China launched negotiations Monday to expand trade ties in the face of protectionist threats from US President Donald Trump.

The Chilean government said officials in Beijing had started discussing expanding an existing bilateral trade agreement to include areas such as e-commerce and services.

China is already a major buyer of exports such as copper from Chile, the world's biggest producer of the metal.

"Our aim is to progress quickly in order to complete the process this year and meet expectations of deepening relations with our top trade partner," said the head of the government's bilateral economic affairs department, Pablo Urria, in a statement.

The two countries agreed on the move during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Chile last year.

Latin American countries are concerned about the impact Trump's trade policies will have on their economies.

The US president has threatened to put up barriers to international trade to protect US jobs.

Chile supports the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade agreement that has collapsed due to Trump's opposition.

China is its biggest trade partner, receiving about a quarter of all Chilean exports.

© 2017 AFP