A small shipment of 379 Corsa Sail cars, made in a General Motors plant in Shanghai, arrived in the Chilean port of Valpariso, setting the stage for an expected surge of imports made possible by a free-trade agreement between Chile and China that comes into effect in October.
GM will sell the vehicles through its Chevrolet brand, which is already sold in Chile. Chile, one of the world's most open economies, imports cars from all over the world, with GM and Toyota Motor dominating the market. Peugeot Citroen, Hyundai and Nissan also have substantial market shares.
Chinese manufacturers until now have been left out of Chile's booming market for imported automobiles, which has been supported by strong consumer demand and an appreciating peso currency.
The FTA is the first China has signed with a non-Asian country. It provides for an immediate cut in import duties on 92 percent of Chilean exports to China, the South American country's most important trade partner after the US. It also reduces duties on Chinese machinery and automobiles entering Chile to zero from the current rate of six percent.