TBY talks to Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, on regional relations and ties with Colombia.
What is Chile’s position on the convergence of Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance (PA) trading communities? What are the next practical steps for maximizing the process?
In the process of regional integration in Latin America, Chile has emphasized "convergence in diversity." Today’s world is more complex, and cooperation and integration are unavoidable if progress is to result by successfully addressing the challenges of the global economy. Therefore, Chile will encourage the exchange of ideas between the PA and Mercosur. A specific step in this proposal of convergence was the realization of the “Dialogue on Regional Integration: Pacific Alliance and Mercosur” seminar, held in Santiago in November 2014. The next step was to prepare a plan of action for the PA and Mercosur around a common agenda.
What is Chile’s comparative regional advantage in its relations with the PA?
The PA represents an opportunity to enhance the exchange and economic development of the countries located along the Pacific. In that space, our contribution is manifold. Chile has an extensive network of trade partners, having generated 24 agreements covering 63 markets. This network is enhanced by the PA and in turn serves to boost member countries. The globalization of the Chilean economy is undoubtedly attractive to our partners. For example, accumulation of origin in the Pacific Alliance will allow Chile to facilitate linkages and productive diversity, improving the position of our region in global value chains. In addition, Chile is an active participant in organizations such as the OECD, where it is recognized for working on good practices and international standards for public policies, and APEC, a regional technical cooperation platform with more than a three-decade relationship with Pacific Rim economies.
What are the main pillars of trade between Chile and Colombia, and in what are areas of industry and trade is Chile is looking to develop further with Colombia in the coming years?
The bilateral relations between Chile and Colombia have reached extraordinary levels, especially in the economic and commercial fields. To achieve this, the free trade agreement (FTA) signed in 2009 has contributed decisively. This agreement broadened and deepened the subjects of exchange between both countries. Every year, the number of Chilean goods and services exported to Colombia is increasing, as well as the number of companies involved in these operations. And this, incidentally, has allowed a reduction in the traditional deficit in the trade balance we have with that country. We see many areas with a great potential for growth in Colombia, which are interesting to Chile, such as the services sector, including information technology and software, or sectors of the mining and hydrocarbons, infrastructure, and biofuels.
What diplomatic and economic assistance is Chile offering to Colombia toward the peace process?
Chile has a tradition of contributing to regional peace, which has motivated us to be a companion country in the Colombian peace process. We have appointed a representative and a deputy representative who have actively participated in this cause. We also want to contribute, together with regional countries, in post-conflict era, especially given our experience in transitional justice; that is to say, the set of policies that were taken after the military regime as reparation for the victims of human rights violations.
© The Business Year - April 2015