By H.E. Mrs. Maria Eliana Cuevas Bernales, Ambassador of Chile to Bucharest
This month of September (18), Chile celebrates 203 years of independence. We are very proud of how far we have come, especially considering the recent shock of the 2010 earthquake. In just three years we have rebuilt and repaired more than 90% of the schools, hospitals, houses, ports, airports, roads and bridges, damaged or destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami.
We are very aware of the new challenges posed by globalization and of the circumstances affecting the world today and our need to adapt. In this context, President Sebastian Pinñera is committed to growing the economy and creating jobs, reducing poverty and social inequality, improving education and health, continuing the fight against crime, rejuvenate democracy and strengthening the values of our society.
Chile aims to be considered a developed country in the coming years. In the last three years, our country has grown by an annual average of nearly six %, exceeding the recent growth of Latin America and of the world average, and reaching the top spot among the OECD countries. Our GDP per capita, which in 2009 was around U.SD.$ 15.,0000, is today USD.S.$ 20,.000, being one of the highest incomes per capita in Latin America. In this regard, the policies of the current government are aimed at stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship. On the subject of electronic governance we have recovered the first place in Latin America, being included by the United Nations in the list as emergent leaders in this field.
Chile continues its strategy of international insertion, thus a few months ago new trade agreements with Turkey, Nicaragua and Malaysia have entered into force, and there will soon be added agreements with Vietnam, Hong Kong and Thailand and a consolidation of our agreement with the European Union. Chile now has trade agreements with 60 countries.
Moreover, we have made progress in the negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the boldest integration process among the major economies on both sides of the Pacific, which seeks to create the largest free trade area in the world.
To this we may add the Pacific Alliance, which was founded by Chile along with Colombia, Mexico and Peru. This alliance, which covers a total population of more than 200 million people, represents one-third of Latin American GDP and half of its trade. It seeks to create an area of free circulation of goods, services, capital and people at a regional level.
Nevertheless, we keep on developing the successful integration strategy in international markets adopted by all Chilean governments in the past 30 years. This integration effort has not been in vain. In the last three years our exports have increased by over 40%, from USD.S.$ 55 billion to nearly USDS$ 80 billion. Moreover, last year, Chile was the second largest recipient of foreign direct investment in Latin America, with about USD.S. $ 30 billion, second only to Brazil. In January this year, Chile hosted the first Summit of Heads of State and Government, when the “Declaration of Santiago” was signed. Moreover, the same month, the first CELAC – European Union Summit also took place in Chile, which was the most important event that has ever taken place in Chile, with the presence of more than 60 countries and of 34 Heads of State and Government from Latin America and Europe.
This year we celebrated 88 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Chile and Romania. These relations are in very good standing, especially after the implementation of the EU-CELAC Summit in Santiago (24 to 26 January 2013), which highlighted the participation of Romania as one of the delegations represented at highest level, with the presence of President Traian Basescu and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Titus Corlatean.
We are also very pleased to have significantly increased bilateral trade and cooperation in the international organizations. We hope for further increases in the future. In this field we can highlight some important events, such as the political consultations last year in October, between our Governments at the level of State Secretary. Likewise, we can also highlight the visit of the Superintendent of the Chilean Pension Fund to Romania in order to cooperate with private pension funds, as well as the important participation of 10 Romanians who obtained Chilean government grants under the program Start UP Chile for developing IT projects in Chile.
In this context, we should also highlight some economic events where we have participated, not only in Bucharest, but also elsewhere in Romania, with the theme “How to do business with Chile”, taking advantage of the fact that Chile is an Associate member of the European Union and other cultural and tourism organizations. We can also mention our participation in the Wine Fair (Wine Expo), which has resulted in a significant increase in the importation of Chilean wines. These are becoming ever more appreciated and known to the public in Romania.
Finally, I support the permanent and continuous strengthening of the relations between Chile and Romania, two countries with a culture that comes from the same roots, whose cradle is the “Latinity” and which undergo similar challenges.