The Korea Herald


[Diplomatic Circuit] S. Korea has tremendous opportunities for future and green economy in Chile: vice trade minister

‘S. Korea, Chile should strengthen cooperation as agreed to by leaders in 2018’

By Sanjay Kumar

Published : July 26, 2021 - 20:52

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Chile’s Vice Trade Minister Rodrigo Yanez speaks during a recent interview with The Korea Herald. (Embassy of Chile in Seoul) Chile’s Vice Trade Minister Rodrigo Yanez speaks during a recent interview with The Korea Herald. (Embassy of Chile in Seoul)

Korea has tremendous opportunities for the future and green economy in Chile, where many opportunities lie for Korean investors, Rodrigo Yanez, vice trade minister of Chile, said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday.

Yanez said that Chile’s rich renewable energy and raw materials such as lithium, as well as the national strategy of nurturing the green hydrogen industry, makes the country a good partner for Korea, and the two countries can leap forward in modernizing bilateral economic relations.

Yanez met with the Korean minister of foreign affairs, minister of trade and president of the National Assembly, encouraging Korean companies with interest in hydrogen and lithium to look to Chile.

According to Yanez, Chile has an objective of expanding standards with the European Union, ASEAN Free Trade Area and South Korea, not only on labor, environment and gender issues, but areas of sustainable development as well, and this is the reason Chile aspires to update a few disciplines of the free trade agreement.

“Discussion on fair, transparent and predictable trade should not be absent,” Yanez stressed.

“Chile expects high regulation of labor standards and environment from partners to facilitate trade based on the principle of Chile trade’s policy shared with Korea, and modernizing the FTA will enable bilateral relation move towards evolving future and green economy in Chile, where Korean companies have tremendous opportunities to grasp,” he said. 

Yanez said that as Chile is distant from Korea as a destination market, setting good rules for predictable, transparent, nondiscriminatory trade is vital to remain competitive.

He added Chile has huge infrastructure portfolio and public-private partnership projects such as toll roads, other roads, ports and airports, including the IT sector. Construction of a trans-Pacific fiber optic cable will link Chile with New Zealand, Australia and rest of the Asia-Pacific region, including South Korea.

“Chile is launching 5G network and local suppliers are precisely working with global supplier of 5G network equipment, and it’s an area Korea has lot of experiences,” he added, welcoming Korean companies to participate in the large-scale project.

Asked what challenges there were in trade between Chile and Korea, Yanez said, “Due to interconnected network of container shipping system, Chile and Korea is facing supply chain crisis affecting cost of trade and making us less competitive, however, amid COVID-19 crisis it’s global phenomenon.

“Partnering with Korea-led initiative to precisely keep the supply chains open, Chile is trying to access market and update the FTA from discipline perspective, latest challenges, changes in trade, digital economy for sustainable development, issues of strategic areas such as green energy or energy transition.”

The vice minister stressed the need for Chile and Korea to scale up production and develop domestic capabilities as part of the hydrogen value chain strategy.

“Korea can play significant role not only as destination market of hydrogen, but also as part of the value chain and invest in the production of green hydrogen, bringing expertise to scale up capabilities and skills in Chile becoming a global player in the green hydrogen future industry.

“We hope Samsung and Posco can cooperate, Chile’s energy minister who recently discussing the project in Europe is expected to visit Seoul in coming months. Korea is in his top list for engagement” Yanez added, referring to Korea’s electronics and steelmaking giants, respectively.

Speaking about the participation of women in digital trade, Yanez acknowledged the gender aspect of the digital divide gap and disclosed the Chile government’s objective.

“Chile pushed road map to incorporate women in trade and economy in forums such as APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit in Malaysia -- first time in Asia-Pacific and in the Pacific Alliance.

“Chile was the first country in the world to incorporate gender chapter in an FTA because Chile considers this not only healthy principle and commitment, but also business-friendly foundation for economic recovery in post-pandemic scenario.”

The vice minister also shared Chile’s experience of COVID-19.

“Chile was not prepared from governance perspective, however, it managed pandemic through decision-making process and by incorporating different views, inputs not only from the government but also from the civil society, private sector and scientific support.”

He warned that the world may face another pandemic, and highlighted the need of responsively structured government.

From early on, Chile focused on advanced purchase agreements for vaccines, and included different vaccines in its portfolio, anticipating a supply crisis and for a diversified risk of pharmaceutical companies and technology to achieve a high vaccination rate.

During the interview, Yanez noted that Chile has Sinovac, mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer, adenovirus vaccines such as AstraZeneca and CanSino, and now Sputnik also, which demonstrates Chile’s strategy of not excluding vaccines for political reasons.

The minister also observed missing global governance and unsatisfactory multilateralism amid COVID-19 and suggested a change in policy priorities of foreign affairs.

“Chile and Korea share common democratic principles, peaceful international law approach on global issues including tackling challenges of Climate change and the two countries have solutions as well as framework to strategically address and implement through bilateral cooperation,” he concluded.