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Chile – Meetings between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Franck Riester with Andrés Allamand, Chile’s Foreign Affairs Minister, and Rodrigo Yáñez, Chile’s International Economic Relations Undersecretary (Dec. 1 - 2)

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian met on December 1 with Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Andrés Allamand and International Economic Relations Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez. Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the (…)

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France and Chile

Political relations

Website of the French Embassy in Chile (in French):

Following a freeze in political relations during the dictatorship, high-level contacts were re-established in 1989. Chile is a historic partner of France in the field of innovative financing for development.

Presidential visits take place regularly:

To ChileTo France
May 2006 President Chirac
May 2009 President Bachelet
October 2010 President Piñera
8 and 9 June 2015 President Bachelet
2 June 2016 (OECD) President Bachelet
20 and 21 January 2017 President Hollande
8 October 2018 President Piñera

Ministerial visits also contribute to the excellent quality of the bilateral relationship:

To ChileTo France
January 2013 (EU-CELC Summit) Jean-Marc Ayrault (Prime Minister)
Marisol Touraine, Bernard Cazeneuve, Pascal Canfin and Benoît Hamon
2 October 2014 Rodrigo Peñailillo (Minister of the Interior)
6 November 2014 Nicolás Eyzaguirre (Minister of Education)
November 2014 Jorge Burgos (Defence Minister)
23-26 April 2015 Najat Vallaud-Belkacem
2015-2016 Ernesto Ottone (Minister of Culture)
18-20 January 2018 Carmen Castillo (Minister of Health)
25-27 June 2018 Isabel Pla (Minister for Women and Gender Equality)
18 July 2018 Roberto Ampuero (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
27-30 July 2018 Paulina Kantor (Minister for Sport)
27 May 2019 Roberto Ampuero (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

Economic and trade relations

France’s role in Chile is in keeping with its economic weight in Europe. Three-quarters of CAC 40 listed companies have a significant presence in Chile. A quarter of them hold a leading position in the market. Some play a key role in Chile’s economy: two Engie subsidiaries (E-CL and Aguas Andinas) are listed in Santiago and Sodexo is one of the top five private employers in Chile (19,000 employees). Chile is our third-largest export market in South America (€1.07 billion in 2018, up 9.2% on 2017, and up 51% on the two previous years) after Brazil and Mexico and ahead of Argentina and Colombia. France is Chile’s third-largest European supplier, after Germany and Spain, but ahead of Italy.

Owing to Chile’s stature in the global supply of copper (accounting for almost one-third of global production and over a third of world exports), the French trade deficit is structural. However, this deficit is narrowing, dropping from €1.38 billion in 2006 to €115 million in 2017 and €30 million in 2018.

France has an important presence in the strategic sectors of energy and infrastructure. French operators are active in all of the energy fields where development is considered a priority, based on the Chilean Energy Agenda published in 2014: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) (Mejillones LNG terminal operated by Engie and the El Campesino power plant project in association with EDF) and renewables (GDF Suez wind farm, Solairedirect portfolio of project investments, El Salvador Solar Park set up by Total Energies Nouvelles (EN), DCNS research centre on marine energy won in 2015, EDF projects).

Regarding infrastructure, French engineering firms continue to play an active role in developing the Santiago Metro (Colas Rail and Systra), the financing of which is mainly structured by BNP Paribas. In February 2015, the concession to operate Santiago International Airport and build a second terminal was awarded to the ADPI-VINCI Airports consortium.

Chilean investment stock in France totals US$616 million. However, Luksic Group’s shareholding in the French company Nexans, through Invexans, alone totalled US$487 million (in 2016). In 2015, Chilean conglomerate Sigdo Koppers announced the takeover of Dijon’s Davey Bickford group, a world leader in detonators.

The Franco-Chilean Year of Innovation in 2017 showcased France and Chile’s shared priorities. It aimed both to bring to light new projects and give increased visibility to our exchanges based around six themes: astronomy and space, energy, smart cities, smart agriculture, ICTs and health.


France is present in Chile through its Institut français in Santiago and seven Alliance française branches (in Antofagasta, La Serena, Viña del Mar, Concepción, Valdivia, Osorno, and Easter Island).

Its relationship with Chile is most vibrant and diversified in the cultural, scientific and academic fields.

In the academic field, there are now around a dozen specific agreements on higher education and research, which have helped start several bilateral programmes and develop institutional cooperation between the ministries of education and higher education of both countries. Almost 350 agreements have been signed between French and Chilean universities. France is the third-largest host country for Chilean students (there were 800 students in French institutions in 2015/16). In March 2014, the University of Technology of Compiègne (UTC) inaugurated a campus at the French Lycée in Viña del Mar, supported by Engie, which hosts a common core of Latin American and French engineering students. An agreement on the mutual recognition of studies and diplomas to enable students to pursue higher education in the partner country was signed in June 2015 during Ms Bachelet’s official visit to France.

In the field of vocational training, cooperation has been strengthened through public-private partnerships: four training centres in automotive mechatronics created with Peugeot (2009), which recently formed a partnership with Total, as well as a training centre in civil and railway engineering with Colas-Rail (2015). In 2017, Schneider Electric and Vinci also signed agreements in the area of vocational training in Chile.

In the field of research, Chile is focusing on the creation of centres of excellence and industrial development, with universities as key players. The wealth of French-Chilean scientific cooperation is founded on long-standing ties and significant investment by major French research bodies such as the CNRS and INRIA. This cooperation is structured around ECOS, a policy and scientific cooperation evaluation programme which provides funding for some 50 research projects each year. Since 1992, over 400 projects have been selected. In April 2018, the Franco-Chilean Centre for Advanced Studies (CFC) was created at the University of Chile. Building on the Michael Foucault Chair, which was launched in 2006, it aims to structure cross-disciplinary cooperation in high-level research and training.

Scientific cooperation between Chile and France consists of several shared research units: a Joint International Unit (IMU) opened in September 2011 by the CNRS in the field of astronomy, in addition to the Mathematical Modelling Centre; four International Associated Laboratories (LIA) linked to the CNRS and two LIAs associated with the French Research Institute for Development (IRD). In August 2011, the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) within the Ministry of the Economy, selected INRIA’s project to create a centre of excellence in information technology (Communication and Information Research and Innovation Centre, CIRIC), with a budget of €30 million over ten years and geared towards research and technology transfer. INRIA has also signed an agreement with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), extending the existing cooperation on innovation for two years. In 2015, CORFO again selected a DCNS-led project to create a centre of excellence on marine renewable energy (MERIC).

France continues to have real influence in Chile, particularly in the fields of performing and visual arts, and is assisting the Chilean government as it considers creating a Ministry for Culture and Heritage (meeting in March 2016 between the two Culture Ministers).

The sharing of ideas, which mobilizes French expertise and intellectuals (Michel Foucault Chair, the d’Alembert Fund, Puerto de Ideas Foundation, etc.), is an essential component of our outreach in Chile.

A declaration of intent regarding women’s rights was signed during Ms Bachelet’s visit in 2015. This will enable French experience in this area to be shared with Chile.

Updated: 18.07.19