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INTERVIEW: Roberto Ibarra, Chilean Ambassador in Canada

INTERVIEW: Roberto Ibarra, Chilean Ambassador in Canada

Posted by José Peralta on April 14, 2014

Canada and Chile are the model example of cooperation and commercial exchange both North-South and vice versa. Counting with a Free Trade Agreement since 1997, both nations have travelled a lot in the economic cooperation and mutual investment, to the point that Canada has become in one of principal investors in Chile in the last decade. Also, Chilean businessmen and especially the exports sector see Canada as a very attractive market, where they have already placed dozens of products.

So, when the Chilean ambassador in Canada, Roberto Ibarra says he is focused in increasing this good relationship between both countries, it´s easy to understand. The diplomat gave an exclusive interview to PAW in which he talked about the short and mid term future in the relationship of Chile and Canada. He said there is a “great potential” to keep exploring new ways of commerce cooperation.

Alongside with promoting bilateral dialogue, Ibarra wants to coordinate visits from senior Canadian officials to Chile and eliminate the visa requirements between both countries. Also, he said there are new markets and possibilities of investment expansion in other sectors, no only the mining one that has been the principal point of encounter in bilateral investment.

How do you see the future of collaboration between the two countries?

Chile and Canada develop their bilateral relationships in a very constructive environment and with a great potential to keep on exploring new opportunities for cooperation.

We have a strategic alliance with Canada and we develop a very wide work agenda that includes several topics, like education, science technology and innovation, defense, environment, agriculture or mining.

How well has the FTA worked? What can be improved?

The FTA with Canada was signed in 1997. It was the first one that Chile signed with a developed country and the first one Canada singed with a Southamerican country. The balance today is very positive because it has favored a substantial and sustained growth of the bilateral commerce between the nations, and also of the investments.

The agreement has been updated several times. The most recent one was in May 2013, were a chapter about Financial Services was added among with the renovation of the Canada Chile Partnership Framework.

From a South American perspective there is little information about Canada and what it represents as a potential country to collaborate and receive investments. Why do you think this happens and how can it be improved?

In the Chilean case, the investment coming from Canada is absolutely relevant. Actually, it is the country that has invested the most in Chile in the last decade, with 21% of the total amount of investment received by Chile between 2003 and 2012.

For Chile, this active link with Canada is given mostly because of the natural coincidences in the mining sector, but we have perceived a growing interest of Canadian capitals to expand into other productive sectors, framed in the Canadian seek of new markets and partners.

Which are your principal goals for the time you have here?

My principal objective is to keep the rhythm and positive level the bilateral relationship has. In a more concrete view, our efforts will be focused in negotiating the signing of an agreement of collaboration with British Columbia based on education, mining and energy.

Also, we will keep on improving the travel mobility of people among the two countries, looking for the elimination of the visas for Chileans visiting Canada.

We want to coordinate high level visits to Chile, specially one with the Governor General focused on education, science, technology and innovation.

Last but not leas, we want to keep on developing bilateral projects that allow to promote in Chile Canadian best practices in public policies.

Which is your opinion of the environment for making business in Canada and what would you say it is the principal attractor to Chilean investors?

The Canadian market presents a very competitive environment and as so constitutes a great challenge for the establishment of Chilean investors. Due to that, is no surprise that most of the investment is done from Canada to Chile.

However, we already have some cases of Chilean investors that are debuting in the Canadian market and we discovered they have more than enough capacities to compete in this market. This can be seen no only in more traditional industries like mining, but also in new projects like environmental services or providing solutions in the acuatic industry.

Why a Canadian should invest in Chile?

Canadian investors have a very clear picture of what Chile represents in the global context, in the emergent markets and in Latin America. It is not necessary to convince them of the long term stability, serious rules and investment opportunities that exist today in Chile.

The sole presence of Canadian institutions investing in Chile represents the best presentation card for Chile and constitute a way of diffusion of the principles that characterize the country.

Which role does the Pacific Alliance and other regional zone agreements in positioning Chile in the international market?

The Pacific Alliance is a economic and commercial instance that allows to its members face better conditions in the very competitive markets of Asia. In this context and analyzing its results, it contributes very positively for our positioning in the international market. 

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