Chile's lower house of Congress ratified a free trade deal with China in a 94-5 vote. The deal, seen as a key step to expand China's commercial ties in the Pacific Rim, still needs to be ratified by the Senate but passage appears to be all but assured, state media reported. Chile's foreign ministry has called the deal "the first between China and a South American country" the "widest, most comprehensive negotiated by the Asian country with any nation." China and Chile agreed to the free trade arrangement last November during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in South Korea and it is expected to kick in later this year. Trade between the two countries hit US$6.9 billion last year.