Eyeing greater economic ties, India and Chile are looking at a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement even as Santiago has agreed to liberalise their business visa regime for Indians.
Economic relations was one of the main focal point of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's three-day visit here as part of his two-nation South America trip that also took him to Argentina.
The visit between February 5-7, the first ever by an Indian External Affairs Minister to Chile, is seen as a significant forward step in the enhancement of our relations, officials said.
Both India and Chile, agreed to further strengthen cooperation in diverse sectors, and to expand existing institutional frameworks.
The Chilean authorities, at all levels, emphasised their keenness to engage with India in a robust manner to foster a strategic economic partnership.
India and Chile currently have a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) that has about 400 odd items.
"Discussions are underway to have this list expanded to include about 3,500 items. Both sides felt that the expansion of the PTA should be concluded soon," an official privy to the developments said.
Chile is the only country in Latin America with which India has a PTA. Chilean side expressed their keenness to elevate the PTA into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement [CEPA] with India and discussions are also expected to commence soon.
Chile also agreed to liberalise their business visa regime for Indian businessmen.
A law for enacting changes in the consular policies in Chile is expected to be considered in the Chilean Parliament.
Chile expressed keenness to open a Consulate General in Mumbai to enable Indian businessmen easier access for visas.
Other developments were setting up of bilateral India-Chile Scientific Forum to foster joint research in select areas including tele-medicine, e-governance, tele-education, agriculture, astronomy, glaciology, oceanography, climate change, information technology and renewable energy.
The possibility of a VVIP visit to India later during the year was also discussed, officials said.
Indian companies including TCS, Godrej, Polaris, Maruti, Mahindra & Mahindra, Wipro, Havell Sylvania, Ashok Leyland, Suzlon, Evalueserve, Oracle Financial Services either have their regional Headquarters or their presence in Chile.
Other Indian companies are showing keen interest to take advantage of Chile's unique position to expand their operations in the LAC region, officials said.
A Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement [DTAA] between the two countries is also expected to be signed shortly.
In view of the profound interest in Chile for Indian philosophy and Indian culture, opening up of an Indian Cultural Centre in Santiago would be explored, an official said.
During the visit, Khurshid also laid the Foundation Stone for establishing Plaza de la India in Punta Arenas, one of the southernmost inhabited cities anywhere in the world.
Many regional authorities participated in this ceremony and a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, measuring 6 feet 6 inches in Dandi pose and sculpted by Anil R Sutar, was also displayed.
Punta Arenas has a significant presence of Indian business people with the first Indians who arrived in Chile more than 100 years ago having settled here.