Regional trade seminar to tap Chile’s external trade experiences

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A Regional Trade Seminar for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States that is being facilitated by the Government of Chile, opened at the CARICOM Secretariat on Wednesday morning. The two-day seminar illustrates the robust cooperation between CARICOM and Chile, and provides the opportunity for networking and the valuable exchange of views and experiences. Chile’s trade policy; access to the Chilean market, regulatory policy; intellectual property rights; and the trade environment, are among the topics which will be covered.

Participants include officials involved in external trade negotiations in CARICOM Member States while the team facilitating the seminar were directly involved in external trade negotiations undertaken by Chile with other countries.

Chile’s Ambassador to CARICOM, His Excellency Claudio Rojas, Minister of Business of Guyana, the Hon. Dominic Gaskin, and CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, Mr. Joseph Cox addressed the opening ceremony.

Ambassador Rojas said that the seminar symbolised an expression of partnership between Chile and CARICOM Member States. He shared his country’s experience with challenges of the past and how it became a key player worldwide in the agro-industries sector.

Against the background of the limitations of its past, Chile undertook a new approach in a sustained manner with the strong commitment of the public sector and launched several instruments for the transformation of agriculture as a sector. The country also adopted sound macro-economic policies, a clear regulatory framework, promoted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and worked with other countries towards an open and fair international trade system.

In his remarks, Minister Gaskin pointed out that CARICOM could learn from Chile’s experiences.

“Right now there’s a wealth of experience around the world in the areas of trade and investment. But there are also great disparities in the quality of those experiences among different countries.

So having the opportunity to tap into the value that resides in those countries that have successfully developed and implemented policies to stimulate and facilitate trade can help to narrow that gap,” he stated.

He stressed the critical need for countries to create the environment for private sector environment to thrive within a regulatory framework of transparency and openness, as was the experience of Chile.

 “We know that Chile is considered one of Latin America’s economic success stories and most experts will tell you that that success is built on sound policies and a strong regulatory framework that emphasises openness, transparency and predictability in areas of trade and investment,” Guyana’s Business Minister said.

 He emphasised the critical importance of a business environment within the Region that was attractive for private sector trade and investment. Therefore, he added, “our policies and regulations while protecting our countries from the excesses of unfettered capitalism must also ensure that certain key ingredients that encourage rather than discourage trade and investment are not ignored.”

 Mr. Cox said that as a strong supporter of South-South cooperation, the Chilean Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AGCID) had delivered on the promises of the CARICOM-Chile Agreement to Establish a Standing Joint Commission on Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination; and the Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

Through those agreements Chile has been providing technical assistance and capacity development in areas including diplomatic training, and Spanish language training for primary and secondary school teachers.  To date, 400 teachers from CARICOM have benefited from the training.

 The Government of Chile has also offered post graduate scholarships to CARICOM nationals in international relations, international law, education, natural resource management and planning, disaster management and international negotiations. Those academic exchanges have exposed CARICOM nationals to the experiences of Chile as well as those of its trilateral partners – Spain, Japan and Canada. A Post Graduate Diploma in Seismology was recently added with support of the Government of Japan.

 Mr Cox said that support to CARICOM through the AGCID for the period 2015 to 2018 was US$12,000,000 for areas including social development, agriculture and food security, disaster prevention and institutional strengthening, and modernisation.

The seminar responds to a discussion and agreement reach by President of Chile, Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, and the Chairman of CARICOM in July 2016, Prime Minister of Dominica, The Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit. Further discussions on CARICOM’s interest to learn from Chile´s experiences with trade policy and promotion during an official visit to Chile by the President of Guyana, His Excellency David Granger, also paved the way for the capacity-building intervention.


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