(April 15, 2011) As a global leader in multiple areas, California can provide Chile with opportunities for innovation, education and economic growth, Ambassador Fernando Schmidt, Chile’s undersecretary for foreign affairs, told guests at the California Chamber of Commerce International Luncheon yesterday.
Chilean Ambassador to the United States Arturo Fermandois.
Photo by Megan Wood
Chilean Ambassador to the United States Arturo Fermandois joined Ambassador Schmidt in expressing hopes for a successful Chile-California partnership.
Chilean Ambassador and Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Schmidt. Play video.
Photo by Megan Wood
Luncheon guests included Assemblymember Henry Perea (D-Fresno) and Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo).
Ambassador Schmidt recalled former Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown envisioning a Chile-California partnership in the 1960s. The ambassador listened as a child to tales of California and “the different places and marvels that adorned [the] famous state.”
The Chile-California Plan was formed in June 2008 when then-Chile President Michelle Bachelet Jeria signed a memorandum of understanding with former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. That ceremony marked the start of a program called “Chile-California Plan: A Strategic Association for the 21st Century.”
The association is based on the joint commitment of Chile and California to develop business opportunities, expand research and teaching in education, and develop projects in different areas that are strategic for both territories: human capital, education in environmental issues, energy, agriculture, information and communications technologies, and trade.
The plan implies opportunity, Ambassador Schmidt said. Chile is expected to grow 7 percent in 2011 and already holds trade agreements with some of the most important economic partners in the world, including Australia, the European Union, Korea and China. What Chile can offer California is conditions for economic growth: an educated workforce and a better environment for doing business, he said.
Chile, however, encounters several problems with which California can lend aid, said Ambassador Schmidt.
“[Chile] needs to overcome the present difficulties...We face still a society with social imbalances, lack of…an
(From left) Arturo Fermandois, CalChamber President Allan Zaremberg and Fernando Schmidt.
Photo by Megan Wood
equal society, lack of access to education and so on. In this regard, we need California—California's creativity,” Ambassador Schmidt said.
California is a leader and is unique on the world stage, and a partnership will bring the Californian entrepreneurship to Chile, Ambassador Schmidt added. The partnership will promote trade and investment, but more crucially, it will bring science, joint research, and technology to Chile.
Moreover, these advancements will allow Chile to diverge from primarily exporting commodities to exporting more sophisticated products in a way that will benefit both Chile and California, Ambassador Schmidt said.
Since the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement was implemented in January 2004, bilateral trade between Chile and the U.S. has doubled and both trade and investment opportunities abound. Chile has the most stable and fastest growing economy in the region, with renowned copper mines and a population of 17 million people.
According to the American Chamber of Commerce in Chile, more than 300 U.S. companies have investments in Chile, with more than 40 of them using Chile as a platform for services in the region. Chilean affiliates of U.S. direct investors are estimated to employ more than 58,500 people and their value-added contributed 3.2 percent to Chile's gross domestic product.
Chile is California's 28th largest export market. California exports of $790 million include petroleum and coal products, computer and electronic products, machinery, and transportation equipment. California imports of $775 million from Chile include fresh fruits, forestry products, wines, and seafood.
Staff Contact: Susanne Stirling