Chile and Canada have much to look forward to in 2017. This year, we celebrate 20 years of our bilateral free-trade agreement, a milestone, as it was the first of its kind for Chile. Back in 1997, we negotiated an ambitious agenda and the FTA included goods, services and investment that were complemented by environment and labour agreements, as well as a treaty to avoid double taxation and tax evasion.
With more than 98 per cent of our trade completely free of tariffs, the results have been impressive. Our bilateral trade has tripled in 20 years, soaring from $559 million US in 1997 to more than $1.6 billion US in 2016 and is set to grow again after a period of low commodity prices.
Chile values its trade experience with Canada and regards it as a successful example of how working together can deliver concrete results to both countries and their people. We also strive to expand free trade with the rest of the world and Chile’s commitment to liberalization is evident in agreements we have with 60 countries that represent more than four billion people.
The Chile-Canada FTA is a living agreement and has been expanded several times to include more economic sectors. Our countries continue to work to maximize the benefits of free trade. The constant modernization of our regulatory framework has created new opportunities in public procurement, financial services and beef exports and we carry on searching for ways to improve regulations.
Chile’s exports to Canada are focused on gold, copper, silver, fresh produce, processed foods and wine, while Canada´s exports to our country consist mainly of wheat, polymers, vegetable oils, coal and retail medicine. Both countries continue to work at diversifying their export matrix.
Trade is not only a bilateral endeavour. Our country also participates in multilateral and regional integration efforts and is an active member of the Pacific Alliance, a joint initiative with Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Indeed, Chile currently occupies the organization’s presidency. Canada has free-trade agreements with all four members of the Pacific Alliance and is an observer country that has established a strategic partnership with an ambitious work agenda geared at strengthening trade and investment through co-operation.
Investment is also a vibrant part of our economic relations. Canada currently has foreign direct investment (FDI) in Chile of more than $19.2 billion US. Canada’s more intensive foreign direct investment is in the mining sector and it is Chile’s third-largest investor overall. Canada’s presence expands to financial services, utilities and the chemical industry. Chile also invests in Canada, in mining, industry and services, including air transport and IT.
Foreign investors from around the world continue to grow in numbers in Chile. In 2015 alone, we saw new investments of $20.5 billion US, a trend that continued last year. Investors value Chile for its economic stability, reliable foreign investment regime and regulatory framework, ease of doing business, transparency and competitiveness and they keep selecting our country as a choice destination in Latin America and beyond.
Our interest in the mining sector brings us together with Canada every year at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention in Toronto. Chile attended PDAC 2017 as a sponsor to showcase opportunities in mining and related services.
Chile offers attractive opportunities in strategic sectors, such as mining equipment, technology and services (METS), the food industry, energy, infrastructure and tourism.
Last year, Chile and Canada celebrated 75 years of diplomatic relations. Our trade and investment relationship is based on a common view of the world. We regard each other as like-minded countries and strategic partners that share common values and a commitment to democracy, human rights, the environment and a free-market economy.
This common vision is the basis of our extensive and growing exchange in two-way travel. Canadians and Chileans can visit our respective countries without a visa and tourism and educational exchanges continue to expand.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Chile-Canada free-trade agreement, we look forward to new opportunities over the next 20 years, a time during which both countries will keep improving our future on the basis of the solid and deeply rooted relationship we have built together.
Alejandro Marisio is the ambassador of Chile. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (613) 235-4402.