The Chilean Ambassador in Buenos Aires, Barbara Figueroa Sandoval, he prefers to move from the micro to the macro when stressing the need to strengthen regional integration.

The government representative of Gabriel Boric He said the two countries should seek to unite from their “points of convergence”, beyond some differences that exist in politics and trade administration.

During a breakfast with journalists, Figueroa Sandoval – graduate in psychology, professor of philosophy, trade unionist and politician – avoided defining whether the best path for this integration is the opening proposed by Uruguay or the path more “internal market” suggested by Argentina, although he pointed out that Chile “is an open economy”.

“The priority is for Chile to be an open economy, it must be a door for the region and this requires special logistical conditions,” he said before a consultation with the Infobase.

Pass of Christ the Redeemer
Pass of Christ the Redeemer

The former trade unionist said there was a need to increase the land connection between the two countries by improving several border crossings which are not in good condition and which are vital for increasing bilateral trade and are also important for Argentine products can be exported across the Pacific.

In particular, he highlighted the importance of the Bi-Oceanic Corridor, a railway project, which will be located in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and will connect them by waterways and roads with Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, with a total length of 3,700 kilometers.

“The intention is that the Corridor is not just a transit route, but a way to add value,” the Ambassador said. He immediately clarified that, to improve transport communication between the two countries, “the most relevant stages must be prioritized”, since there are 71 of them in the mountains.

Argentine commercial exchange.  Estimated figures for January 2023 Indec
Argentine commercial exchange. Estimated figures for January 2023 Indec

Figueroa also stressed that trade relations between the two countries are good and said he was working to overcome “regulations that generate uncertainty” due to restrictions on currency movements by the Argentine government.

To remove a negative connotation, he clarified that “in Chile, there is no fear of investing in Argentina; On the contrary, but we have to find the best mechanisms so that there is fluidity”.

“Chilean companies do not want to leave, on the contrary; they are very comfortable,” said the ambassador when asked about the departure of Falabella, who has joined the exodus of other companies such as Masisa and Latam.

Masisa, the last Chilean company to leave Argentina
Masisa, the last Chilean company to leave Argentina

At his side, diplomats from the embassy stressed that there are issues that have to do with the global strategy of certain companies and not with the particular situation of the country.

In this sense, Cecilia Alegría from ProChile pointed out: “We don’t have apocalyptic cases; Chilean investors are satisfied and are considering the situation in the medium and long term”, ruling out that the critical local situation could reduce Trans-Andean interest in this market.

In addition, the Ambassador pointed out that the two countries should take advantage of the huge opportunities offered by energy resources such as lithium and green hydrogen, combining the need for development with concern for the environment. “In Chile, we learned it after bad experiences in the 70s and 80s,” he says, smiling.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández, left, greets Chilean President Gabriel Boric (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentine President Alberto Fernández, left, greets Chilean President Gabriel Boric (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

The Chilean head of mission also raised other political issues – although she avoided any controversy with her Argentinian counterpart, Raphael Bielsa, who was interviewed in Chile for some of his interventions – and the important presence that Santiago de Chile will have at the next book fair to be held in Buenos Aires next month.

In January, trade with Chile recorded a surplus of $195 million. Exports were recorded for 251 million dollars, with a decrease of 40.4% compared to the same month of the previous year (-170 million dollars). Meanwhile, imports from Chile amounted to $56 million and were up 5.7% ($3 million) year-on-year, mainly due to increased purchases of capital goods .

With 4,160 million dollars, Chile – fourth destination of national exports – contributed in 2022 to Argentina’s largest bilateral surplus.

Regarding investment, there are almost 400 Chilean companies with more than 700 different investment projects in Argentina that directly and indirectly generate some 125,000 jobs. The most relevant sectors are electricity (with 8,754 million dollars), services (8,754 million dollars), industry (8,754 million dollars), agriculture (1,684 million dollars) and mining ($1,632 million).

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