Chile and the U.K. on Wednesday signed a bilateral trade continuity agreement aimed at safeguarding exporters from the impacts of Britain's upcoming departure of the European Union (EU).
Chilean Foreign Relations Minister Roberto Ampuero and British Ambassador to Chile Jamie Bowden signed the deal during a ceremony in the Chilean capital Santiago.
A release from the Chilean Government said the agreement mimics the conditions of the current trade deal that Chile has with the EU.
The U.K. is due to leave the EU on March 29, but as yet it has not reached a deal with the economic bloc to govern its relationship once it leaves.
"We have achieved a positive solution amid a scenario which could have become quite a complex situation," Ampuero said.
The deal will "protect bilateral trade, Chilean exporters, and most of all, protect jobs," he added. "With this, Chile becomes the first country in the world to sign a deal of this type with the U.K., an insurance policy for our exporters."
Meanwhile, Bowden described the signing as a "hugely important milestone".
"The U.K. and Chile enjoy a long-lasting trade relationship. The U.K. is still working to achieve an agreement with the European Union on the terms of our departure. The success of those talks will determine whether the current EU-Chile agreement ceases to apply to the U.K. at the end of March this year, or at the end of an Implementation Period," he said.
"In either scenario, the agreement we have signed today means that there will be no disruption to U.K.-Chile trade as the U.K. leaves the EU."
The agreement also includes a "series of instruments to amplify and modernize its coverage", the Chilean Government said.
"This new agreement contains a general evolutionary clause to ensure that every two years discussions will take place on how the trade relationship can be improved," said Rodrigo Yáñez, director general of the Chilean Foreign Relations Ministry.
In 2018 bilateral trade was valued at US$1.36 billion, 19% higher year-on-year. Exports from Chile grew 17% and were led by fruit, wine and processed food.