Chile’s economy is growing, and as it does the country is eyeing new markets in Africa. The Andean country saw an overall 6% growth in 2011, and with a 5.6% growth index the first trimester of 2012, Chile is positioning itself for a strong year. With this rising confidence, the government is looking to strengthen commercial ties on the African continent.
In a recent discussion at the fourth Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM), Chile and South Africa agreed to further deepen economic relations through the establishment a Joint Trade and Investment Commission and the elimination of double taxation. South Africa is one of the largest investors in Chile’s mining sector, with an estimated US$6-8 billion investment in that and other areas such as aquaculture and wine. The African nation exports a wide variety of products to Chile, including minerals, chemical fertilizers, sulphate, insecticides and fruit. Overall trade value between the two countries is estimated at US$150 million annually.
Earlier in the year, Minister of Foreign Relations Alfredo Moreno was in Morocco where he met with the country’s top leadership to discuss plans to open a new Chamber of Commerce in Casablanca. The commercial office would make Morocco a strategic point for Chilean goods arriving to the African continent and open new possibilities for African goods in the Chilean market.
Subsecretary to the Minister of Foreign Relations Fernando Schmidt Ariztía rounded out a string of African talks with a visit to Ghana, where the two countries planned to further enrich pre-existing diplomatic ties with the official establishment of an embassy. The two countries made solid commitments to developing trade, knowledge sharing and transfer of technologies, investment, oil, gas and mining.
Schmidt underscored the embassy in Ghana as part of Chile’s strategic expansion into the African market. “Chile has the necessity to reach the African continent, during the last years we haven’t been able to strengthen trade relations as other countries in Latin America have. We need to overcome this situation,” he said. At the same time he noted the advantages for Ghana, whose products would benefit from Chile’s wide range of free trade agreements.
Chile has 20 embassies throughout the African continent, including South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia and Morocco.