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Chili - Q&A - (20 Dec. 2021)

Q: Do you have any comment on Gabriel Boric’s election as the new president of Chile? What kind of relationship do you expect to have with the new head of State?
A: France congratulates Gabriel Boric on his election as president of the Republic of Chile and offers him its best wishes for (…)

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France and Chile

Political relations

Chile is one of our main partners in South America. This strong bilateral relationship is founded on collective memory, the welcoming of Chilean refugees during the dictatorship and shared values. Our countries have a long history of close friendship and active cooperation. The official visits by President Sebastián Piñera to Paris on 8 October 2018 and 6 September 2021 gave new momentum to the bilateral relationship. This partnership is built on particularly rich, well established trade cooperation, especially in the sectors of infrastructure (including transport), mining and energy, as well as traditional cooperation in education, research, science and culture, human rights and the environment. In recent years, we have seen this dynamism extend to new sectors such as green energy, technological innovation and tourism. Chile is also a historic partner in terms of innovative financing for development. Today, the country participates in initiatives spearheaded by France, such as the Alliance for Multilateralism and the Alliance for the Conservation of Rainforests.

French presence

Consular section of the Embassy and Honorary Consuls in Valparaíso-Viña del Mar, Concepción, Temuco, Osorno and Punta Arenas.
French community: 12,237 on consular register
Chilean community in France: 15,000 (estimated)

Visits

Following a freeze in political relations during the dictatorship, high-level contacts were re established in 1989.

  • Presidential visits to Chile: May 2006: President Chirac; 20-21 January 2017: President Hollande.
  • Presidential visits to France: May 2009: President Bachelet; October 2010: President Piñera; 8-9 June 2015: President Bachelet; 8 October 2018: President Piñera; 24-26 August 2019 (G7): President Piñera; 6 September 2021: President Piñera.
  • Ministerial visits to Chile: January 2013 (EU-CELAC Summit): Jean-Marc Ayrault (Prime Minister), Marisol Touraine, Bernard Cazeneuve, Pascal Canfin, Benoît Hamon; 23 26 April 2015: Najat Vallaud-Belkacem; 25-27 July 2019: Jean-Yves le Drian; 4 March 2021: Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (virtual visit).
  • Ministerial visits to France: 2014: Rodrigo Peñailillo (Minister of the Interior), Nicolás Eyzaguirre (Minister of Education), Jorge Burgos (Minister of Defence); 2015-2016: Ernesto Ottone (Minister of Culture); January 2017: Carmen Castillo (Minister of Health); June 2018: Isabel Pla (Minister for Women and Gender Equality); 18 July 2018: Roberto Ampuero (Minister of Foreign Affairs); 27-30 July 2018: Pauline Kantor (Minister of Sport); 27 May 2019: Roberto Ampuero (Minister of Foreign Affairs); 2-3 December 2020: Andrés Allamand (Minister of Foreign Affairs); 30 June 2021: Juan Carlos Jobet (Minister of Energy and Mines).

Ambassadors

  • French Ambassador in Santiago: Pascal Teixeira da Silva (October 2021)
    Twitter account: @ambafrancecl
  • Chilean Ambassador in Paris: Juan Salazar Sparks (until 10/03/2022)

Economic relations

Chile is our third biggest trade partner in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico. Almost 280 French subsidiaries operate in Chile, in diverse key sectors (electricity, water, transport, aeronautics, construction, roadworks, electrical equipment). They employ around 70,000 people and generate revenue of over €7 billion. France is the 13th biggest investor in Chile and it continues to develop projects (26 identified by Invest Chile in 2021, mainly in infrastructure and renewable energy). The public health crisis has not noticeably affected our businesses, with the exception of the Santiago Airport concession and the tourism/hospitality sectors, nor has it weakened the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals. Chile is one of the 40 countries named by France as a “priority destination for investment” in 2020. Our trade reached record levels in 2019, with a total of €2.6 billion and a strong surplus for France due to the delivery of Airbus aircraft, accounting for 54% of our exports. However, our trade fell by a third in 2020 to €1.7 billion and our balance fell into deficit once again, with a 35% decrease in French exports in the aeronautics and automotive sectors. Our exports are mainly in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, perfume, automotive, agrifood and electrical equipment sectors. Our main imports come from the copper (54% of our purchases in 2020; Chile is our primary supplier), agrifood and wood industries. In 2020, France became Chile’s biggest customer and fourth-largest European supplier.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France and Chile have very dynamic and diverse cultural, scientific and academic cooperation, bolstered by the Institut Français and 7 Alliance Française branches (Antofagasta, La Serena, Viña del Mar, Concepción, Valdivia, Osorno and Rapa Nui). France is influential in performing and visual arts and debates.

France is the fourth-largest host country for Chilean students, with a dozen academic agreements signed, cooperation between our Ministries of Education and Higher Education and more than 600 inter-university agreements. An agreement on mutual recognition of studies and diplomas was signed in June 2015. In the field of vocational training, cooperation has been strengthened through public-private partnerships, with Peugeot and Total in the automotive mechatronics industry, Colas Rail in the civil and railway engineering industries, Schneider Electric and Vinci. Chile promotes the creation of industry research centres of excellence with the support of universities.

The exceptional French-Chilean scientific cooperation is founded on long-standing values and groundbreaking research. The CNRS Mathematical Modelling Centre (CMM), which celebrated its 20th anniversary in November 2020, is its first International Research Laboratory for all subjects outside of France. There are 16 French-Chilean research laboratories – the CNRS has developed more international laboratories in Chile than in any other Latin American country (astronomy, mathematics, marine biology, etc.). France is Chile’s fourth biggest scientific partner (1,000 co publications), thanks to bilateral research and mobility programmes (ECOS South Chile, which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023) and regional programmes (STIC-AmSud, CLIMAT-AmSud and MATH-AmSud). The French Research Institute for Development (IRD) has a joint laboratory and France is involved in three international Laboratories of Excellence: INRIA Chile, an international centre of excellence for information technology (CIRIC, with a budget of €30 million since 2012), which contributes to artificial intelligence development in Chile; MERIC, a centre of excellence for marine renewable energies; and Engie Lab. The establishment of a Franco-Chilean Centre for Advanced Studies in Human and Social Sciences in 2018 has helped to add value to our university exchanges.

Other cooperation

The French Embassy in Chile hosts the headquarters of the Regional Delegation for Cooperation in South America. The Delegation develops projects relating to governance, human rights, education and teaching. Several regional programmes with France and at least two other countries in the region are heavily backed by Chile, which holds the Secretariat of the three AmSud excellence programmes – STIC, MATH and CLIMAT – run by its Agency for Research and Development, ANID.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), of which France is a Member State, also has its headquarters in Santiago.

Updated: April 2022