On April 16, the Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his second official visit to Chile.
Prime Minister Harper and President Piñera issued a joint statement detailing the key outcomes of this important visit, including expansion and modernization of the Free Trade Agreement on its 15th anniversary, a Memorandum of Understanding on defence cooperation, and Chilean support for Canada joining the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.
The Prime Minister’s return to Chile, five years after he launched the Americas Strategy in Santiago, conveys a clear message that the hemisphere remains a foreign policy priority for Canada and that Chile continues to be a strategic partner in pursuing our objectives in the Americas. At that time, Canada and Chile also signed the Canada Chile Partnership Framework Agreement, which has served as a roadmap for the expansion and deepening of the relationship in priority sectors. Both countries are proud of the tremendous progress made under this framework since 2007.
Following the cordial invitation from His Excellency the President of the Republic of Chile, don Sebastián Piñera Echenique, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, made an official visit to Chile on April 16, 2012.
In their meeting, the Leaders recalled that, during Prime Minister Harper’s visit to Chile five years ago, the Canada-Chile Partnership Framework Agreement was signed and Canada’s Strategy for the Americas was launched, reaffirming Canada's commitment to this region. The Leaders were pleased to acknowledge that, on this, the fifteenth anniversary of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Chile and Canada, the bilateral relationship has intensified and diversified. This has been facilitated by a friendship based on common values and principles, and a shared view of diverse global and hemispheric issues, such as the commitment to democracy, human rights, the Rule of Law and open economies, among others.
Both the President and the Prime Minister underscored the value of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the first comprehensive FTA signed by Chile with another country, which has generated a major expansion of bilateral trade and investment. Two-way trade has increased almost fourfold since the Free Trade Agreement came into force in 1997.
To enhance the benefits of trade liberalisation, the Leaders witnessed the signing of an Agreement modernizing the FTA, adding a chapter on financial services and updating the chapters on dispute settlement, customs procedures and government procurement. The Leaders also agreed to explore the possibility of broadening the Agreement, including the feasibility of negotiating a Technical Barriers to Trade Chapter. Additionally, both Parties agreed to finalize remaining steps to open their markets to beef and beef products as soon as possible.
They noted that Canada has become the largest direct investor in Chile in the mining sector and the third-largest investor overall, with a stock of Canadian investment in Chile valued at $13.3 billion at the end of 2010. This demonstrates the confidence of the Canadian private sector in the expansion of Chile, which has resulted in the creation of jobs and new economic growth, as well as the promotion of best practices in, and a strengthened concept of, corporate social responsibility.
The Leaders welcomed that Canadian investment has diversified beyond mining into a number of new sectors including utilities, energy, financial services, chemicals, infrastructure, and engineering services. Both Leaders also welcomed the growing trend of Chilean investment in Canada.
In reaffirming the importance of the Pacific Rim for both countries, the President and Prime Minister committed to strengthening their cooperation in APEC and related fora. Similarly, they encouraged exchanges of views on the challenges and opportunities offered in that region. In this context, Prime Minister Harper expressed his appreciation for the support provided by Chile for Canada’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
The Leaders acknowledged the long-standing collaboration between the two countries in science and technology and noted the role of the Joint Implementation Committee for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation in promoting even deeper linkages. The Joint Committee has prioritized diverse initiatives in the areas of public health, aquaculture and biofuels, in addition to other areas of collaboration listed in the MOU.
The Leaders agreed on the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship as drivers of increased productivity and competitiveness and encouraged partnerships between national programs designed to stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation. They also pledged to continue promoting cooperation between universities/colleges/institutes and the creation of exchange agreements and joint research programs.
The President and the Prime Minister underscored the value of student exchanges through programs that encourage mutual understanding and create people-to-people linkages that will endure into the future. They encouraged the participation of Canadians in English teaching programs in Chile, such as the "English Opens Doors" program, including the participation of second-generation Chilean Canadians.
The Leaders highlighted the success of the Memorandum of Understanding on youth mobility, which, since its signing in 2008, has allowed a steady flow of young Chileans and Canadians to travel and work in each other’s country and develop a better understanding of each other’s culture.
To promote the support and development of indigenous communities, Prime Minister Harper was pleased to announce Canada’s contribution of $3.8 million over five years to the Wekimum Rural Training Centre, which will provide young people in Chiloé, Chile, with valuable training opportunities. On climate change, Prime Minister Harper announced Canada’s commitment of $450,000 to the restoration of the pristine wilderness of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, which was ravaged by wildfires in December 2011.
The Leaders noted with satisfaction the increasing development of ties in new priority areas. In the field of defence, the Leaders witnessed the signing by accompanying ministers of a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation between the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Chile and the Department of National Defence of Canada. The Leaders noted their shared concerns about the importance to the Hemisphere of stability and security in Central America, the fight against transnational organized crime, terrorism, as well as the global problem of drugs and other criminality.
They highlighted their shared belief that security is an essential element for the development of any country. In this context, they noted with appreciation the ongoing collaboration between Chilean and Canadian officials to share best practices and experiences in such areas as crime prevention, police management, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.
The President and Prime Minister expressed their appreciation of ongoing dialogue between both governments, as expressed in regular consultations at the political and planning level, as well as common views and support in multilateral fora. In regional terms, the Leaders stressed the role they assign to the OAS as the principal hemispheric forum, and the importance of strengthening the Inter-American Democratic Charter. They agreed that Chile’s invitation this year to participate in the deliberations of the G-20 presented an excellent opportunity to strengthen the dialogue on global matters.
The Leaders shared the view that the mature and comprehensive relationship that has been developed between Chile and Canada has allowed both states to benefit from increased engagement in all areas of bilateral cooperation, and recognized the positive role played by the significant Chilean community living in Canada in this regard. Therefore, the Leaders expressed their determination to continue to work towards modernized approaches that facilitate the flow of citizens between both countries.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper thanked President Sebastián Piñera for the warm reception and kind hospitality received during his stay in Chile, and reiterated the invitation for President Piñera to visit Canada at a mutually convenient time.