Chile claims stability and continuity of its policies to attract investment in Spain

The Chilean Minister of Economy shows his “conviction” in the early modernization of the free trade agreement with the EU

Sep. 26 () –

The Chilean Minister of Economy, Nicolás Grau, has started a European tour in Spain with which he seeks to attract investments to the South American country, for which he claims the guarantee of stability and the continuity of the policies offered by Chile in an international context that, as he himself has recognized, looks “complex”.

Grau, who has met in Madrid with his Spanish counterpart, Nadia Calviño, also faces in Paris, Berlin and London a “very intense” agenda with which he wants to draw the attention basically of private companies willing to focus on the medium and long term.

The choice of Spain as the first stop “is not random,” he acknowledged in an interview with Europa Press. Spain added in 2020 more than 21,600 million dollars in direct investment, which implies more than a quarter of the total funds arriving from the EU and 7.8 percent of the total stock -only behind the United States and Canada-.

Spanish investment is characterized by its “diversity”, as pointed out Grau, who mentioned among the potential interests the fields of energy, telecommunications and infrastructures. In fact, the Minister of Economy is traveling accompanied by the Minister of Public Works, Juan Carlos García.

Grau has underlined that Chile offers a “practically assured” economic dynamism and, in spite of the global conjunctural situation, he sees “very good perspective” to maintain the current “good rhythm” of investments. In this sense, he emphasized that, regardless of who is in power, there is continuity in policies that “imply challenges in the medium and long term”, for example in the area of the environment.

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To the already consolidated sectors are added new ones, including some that are “critical” to face the climate crisis, such as copper, lithium or green hydrogen -fuel on which Gabriel Boric’s government has developed a specific national strategy-.

The Executive, however, is particularly vigilant that the increase in investment also translates into quality employment, that there is good collaboration between private companies and the public sector, and that small firms are not left behind in the face of large corporations.

This will be on display at the investment forum that Investchile will hold between December 5 and 7 in Santiago. This institution plans to open new offices in Europe to consolidate the channeling of investments and seek additional markets.

On the future of the free trade agreement between Chile and the European Union, in the process of modernization, Grau has shown his “conviction” that the negotiations will reach a successful conclusion, although he has avoided speculating on the dates of a potential ratification. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, this month called on the EU-27 to speed up the ratification of key trade agreements for the EU and, among them, alluded to the case of Chile.

Domestically, Chile has been marked in recent weeks by the failure of the referendum on the new Constitution, but Grau does not consider that the current scenario could in any way affect the country’s image abroad, since “the process is going to end well” and “the business world understands this”.

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The minister pointed out that milestones like this demonstrate Chile’s capacity to “channel institutionally and democratically political tensions” such as those experienced during the 2019 protests. Now, the “challenge” is to draft and approve a new Constitution “as soon as possible”.

Grau has also admitted that the Government observes “with great concern” inflation, which in year-on-year terms already exceeds 14 percent. The minister explained that Chile has already been dragging this rise since 2021 and now, in 2022, it has been added in a “very strong” way the international context derived largely from the war in Ukraine.

The Executive seeks formulas to “control” this inflation, according to Grau, who has claimed the advances to reduce the deficit and has also pointed out the efforts developed in parallel by the Central Bank, which has resorted to interest rate hikes.

The Minister also stated that the Government has undertaken improvements in the minimum wage or in subsidies to families with fewer resources, while at the same time promoting other innovative initiatives such as a price observatory that allows households to compare the cost of the basic shopping basket in different establishments.

This observatory works only for “informative” purposes, has clarified Grau, who has ruled out that the Government plans to establish some kind of regulated price for food as it exists in other areas such as public transport.

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