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  • The 2016 Santander Canning Lecture discussed how Chile is a well-functioning market economy that presents a myriad of opportunities for UK exporters

Delivered by Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, President of the Republic of Chile, this year’s Canning Lecture outlined some key reasons why UK exporters should not only strengthen their relationships with Latin America, but also focus their attentions on Chile in particular.

Chile is a well-functioning market economy of long-standing, said President Bachelet, with an open foreign investment regime, strong fiscal position, and sophisticated capital markets: an ideal environment for UK exporters to thrive. Indeed, despite the impact from the end of the commodities boom, Chile has reported economic growth (predicted to be 2.6% in 2016, and averaging 4% by 2017-20), with inflation due to fall within the 2-4% target range, and with low oil prices expected to help keep the country’s current account deficit manageable.

President Bachelet: “In the last twenty years, we have reduced poverty levels from 38% to 8% of the population, and the GDP per capita, adjusted to purchasing power parity, has risen from US$5,800 to more than US$23,000 – the highest in the region.”

Yet it’s trade that makes Chile so remarkable. The country possesses one of the world’s most extensive networks of free-trade agreements, and it is hoped the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will further expand access to foreign markets and compensate for the modest size of Chile’s domestic market. What’s more, Chile’s relationship with the UK is strong: while only the sixth largest Latin American country in terms of population, it is the second largest UK export destination in the region. The UK, in turn, is the sixth largest foreign investor in Chile.

President Bachelet: “65% of our GDP is linked to trade, and we’re negotiating more. We have trade agreements with 62 countries, which gives us access to 85% of global GDP and 63% of the world’s population.”

Other topics addressed by President Bachelet included: investment in energy, infrastructure, and health; the renewal of the EU-Chile Association Agreement; and economic and social inclusion as well as its application to education and sectors such as communication. She also discussed support for entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises, innovation and new technologies as a development model, and, of course, strengthening the relationship between Chile and the UK.

Mauricio Munguia, Latin Desk Director at Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking said: “Santander’s participation in this event reflects its long-standing support for trade with Chile – recognising it as a pillar of UK-Latin American trade. Despite being faced with the end of the commodities boom, Chile has adjusted to the new trade landscape and has cemented its position as one of Latin America’s most competitive economies. Chile’s sustained economic growth is supported by its openness to trade, which has distinguished it internationally as an innovative and dynamic market. UK companies looking to export to Latin America, should consider Chile as a target market.”

John Carroll, Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander Corporate and Commercial said: “The Canning Lecture is one of the most high-profile Latin American affairs events in the UK, and Santander is proud to support. Today we have seen that the opportunities for trade between the UK and Chile are vast, although entering any new market can be daunting. Santander has a strong, local network here in the UK and in Chile, meaning we are able to provide on-the-ground support and expertise in both markets, and connect businesses with the right people and opportunities overseas.”