Chilean President Sebastian Pinera kicked off an Asian tour on Wednesday with a visit to Vietnam aimed at strengthening ties between the two nations as they both pursue trans-Pacific trade deals.
Pinera is set to hold talks with Vietnam's top leaders during the five-day trip, including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Thursday, and will also visit UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay, one of the country's most famous tourist spots.
Chile, a major producer of minerals, and Vietnam, a big exporter of seafood and textiles, are avidly pursuing trade agreements.
Both countries are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-led effort to start building a free-trade zone spanning the entire Asia-Pacific region.
Chile sold $336 million worth of goods to Vietnam last year -- mostly non-ferrous metals, timber and wine -- and Vietnamese exports to the South American nation were worth $138 million, state-run Vietnam News Agency said.
The combined two-way trade has been increasing fast -- up by more than 30 percent every year for the past two years, VNA reported.
Last year, the two countries signed an accord to lift tariffs on more than 9,000 products, to take effect over the next few years.
Within three years, the two countries have agreed to offer preferential conditions to each other in the areas of service and investment.
After Vietnam, Pinera will fly to South Korea to join US President Barack Obama and other leaders for a nuclear security summit in Seoul on March 26 and 27. He will then travel to Japan on March 28 for a four-day visit.