Last month, a delegation of congressmen from across the United States made their way to Chile to discuss trade, tourism, and the increasingly strong ties between the two countries.
The U.S. delegation represented a wide range of states, with all parties present interested in building on the already good relations with the Andean nation. Led by and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, the group also included Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, representatives George Miller and Jared Huffman of California, and Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey.
With varying interest in economics, business, and the environment, the U.S. congressmen met with their counterparts in Chile and President Michelle Bachelet as well as local business leaders.
Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Sen. Cantwell met with Chilean importers from U.S. small businesses to discuss improved exports and future endeavors. Her home state, Washington, has very strong connections to Chile. Last year, the north-western state exported $1.3 billion worth of goods to Chile, and since 2011 Washington-Chile exports have grown 118 percent.
“Chile is a critical Pacific trading partner for Washington state,” Cantwell said ahead of the trip “The growing economy in Chile represents a major opportunity for Washington exports. From airplanes to smart grid technology to software to small business exports, Washington products are in demand across the world. I look forward to meeting with President Bachelet and Chilean business leaders to further this growth in trade, support job creation in Washington state, and to partner on innovation.”
In addition to a wide range of business and trade meetings, the trip also marked a historical bond between members of the delegation and Chile. While visiting the country, Chile’s foreign minister Heraldo Muñoz presented Sen. Harkin and Representative Miller the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins Award — the highest civilian honor awarded to non-Chileans.
The two US politicians were recognized for their humanitarian work dating back to some of the most trying days in Chilean history.
“They were with us, supporting democracy and human rights since the beginning,” Minister Muñoz said. “We don’t forget our friends.”
Despite being thousands of miles away, Sen. Harkin and Representative Miller had worked to help Chileans regain democracy and justice.
“’I am pleased to say that the values they shared with us are the pillar of the foreign policy of Chile today ie. social justice, human rights and the promotion and defense of democracy. All values that identify the best of humanity,” Muñoz added.