The CCFTA was probably reduced when Chile signed 43 other bilateral pacts (if each European country is counted separately). “It`s kind of a crazy game,” Goldfarb says. “You sign for preferential treatment. But if the country leaves and signs other agreements, it undermines the access that has been gained. Berg Chilling Systems, also based in Toronto, tells a similar story. Although the company announced agreements with Chilean processors worth more than $500,000 in 1998, Berg`s president, Don Bergren, says its exports to Chile are now “little recorded.” And then there is Newfoundland and Labrador, which has signed seven agreements. But nearly a decade later, none of these companies have become a business opportunity. “We cannot deny that exporting from Argentina is cheaper than exporting from Canada.” While experts warn that trade statistics can be unreliable, a survey of many Canadian companies that announced trade transactions as part of The Team Canada mission in 1998 paints an equally bleak picture of the impact a free trade agreement can have on exports. Take Toronto-based Aastra Technologies Ltd., which manufactures telephone installations. With the exception of Nortel Networks, none of the companies contacted – from Scotiabank and Vancouver-based methanol producer Methanex Corp., to March Networks and BC Bearing Group – pay tribute to the CCFTA for its success.
“For us, the free trade agreement has few direct consequences,” said Bruce Aitken, president of Methanex. He says large natural gas expropriation basins in southern Chile attracted methane to the country 15 years ago. Bill Dix, vice president at BC Bearing, says his company only followed its mining customers. And Louis Jajam, sales director for Latin America at Winnipeg-based Duha Group, says the CCFTA has only helped “a little” to export color displays to Chilean factories, adding that “without the FTA, we would have sold US$450,000 instead of $500,000.” In 2012, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera announced the expansion of the CCFTA, with a chapter on financial services in which Canadian financial institutions can preferentially access the Chilean market and compete with their competitors under similar competitive conditions. . . .