Hugo Swire – 2016 Speech on Chile Day


Below is the text of the speech made by Hugo Swire, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on 13 May 2016.

President Bachelet, Lord Mayor, Foreign Minister Muñoz, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. As this year’s Chile Day comes to an end here at Mansion House, it is a good moment to reflect on our engagement with Chile and Latin America since the first Chile Day six years ago.

Since the first Chile Day in 2010, we have re-engaged substantively with the whole of Latin America, under our Canning Agenda. We have increased our Royal and Ministerial visits, and increased our footprint, opening new Embassies and Consulates and boosting the numbers of staff working on trade and investment –including in Chile.

The enduring strength of our friendship with Chile is reflected in the breadth of our cooperation today. We share the same free trade, free market approach. We hold similar views on a variety of subjects from the Antarctic to peacekeeping; from human rights to education. Chile is an important partner in humanitarian relief, peacekeeping and global defence interests. We worked closely together on Syria during Chile’s UN Security Council chairmanship last year. We were proud to support Chile’s initiatives on women and LGBTI rights in the Human Rights Council.

And our relationship looks to the future – through the Newton-Picarté Fund our science and innovation collaboration is second to none in the region. The Chilean Government’s match funding has been especially effective in making this a real partnership. And this year, we were pleased to announce a substantial increase in our package of support to Chile through our Prosperity Fund. We will spend more than £1 million this year on projects supporting a wide range of fields, from renewable energy and green finance to sustainable mining; from energy efficiency and environmental governance to smart cities.

The strength of our cooperation is also reflected not only in our growing education exchanges but also in the number of important agreements we have signed at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office this morning. These covered mutual recognition of qualifications;the use of satellite technology to tackle issues, of which one of the most important is illegal fishing; co-operation between our Diplomatic Academies; and Building Information Modelling, a UK innovation which helps to make construction more efficient and cost effective.

In addition to all this we look forward to ever greater cooperation in Antarctica.

And our bilateral trade has also grown. British exports of goods and services to Chile reached one and a quarter billion pounds in 2014, and Chile’s investments in the UK are also growing, in IT, food and drink and Financial Services.

As you all know, the City of London is the world’s pre-eminent financial centre. Ranked first in the global financial centres index. The reason is London’s unique cluster of services – at the forefront of every field. It is a one-stop shop for all business needs – whether that is financial and legal services or expertise in planning, delivering and managing infrastructure over the whole life-cycle of a project.

It is in this context that I am pleased Chile chose to hold Chile Day in London for the sixth consecutive year. And we look forward to welcoming you back next year, I am sure!

When the Lord Mayor was in Santiago last month, he invited Chilean businesses – particularly SME’s in the growing technology sector – to use the liquidity and capital of London’s markets and to take advantage of London’s expertise.

Following his visit, we are matching a number of opportunities in Chile with areas where we do have particular expertise, such as green finance and financial services, in addition to the strong existing cooperation in sectors such as mining. As the industry becomes more sophisticated and environmentally aware, so the opportunities grow for more cooperation.

The role of the Chilean Government has been vital in all this. It has pursued sound economic policies that have enabled Chile to withstand the challenges of the global economic downturn. And it has set a clear strategic direction, with its membership of the free trade, free-market oriented Pacific Alliance. I wish President Bachelet and Chile well as they take over the Chair of the Alliance next month. The United Kingdom is an active observer of the Alliance and we will continue to work with them on the agreed priorities of education, innovation and competition.

I would like to thank the Lord Mayor and the Corporation for hosting Chile Day in these unmatchable surroundings. And I will finish by saying to President Bachelet that we have been honoured and delighted to welcome you. Your presence, and that of so many of your Ministers and the Governor of you Central Bank, has made this a very special Chile Day. Your visit to London has even greater significance, as an illustration of our shared goal to further strengthen the relationship between our two countries. We will now – Government and private sector alike – be working to build on your visit here and to take that relationship to a new level.

President Bachelet, I know you have great ambitions for Chile. As one of your oldest friends, we want to work with you to help you to achieve those goals. Thank you for coming here today.