The United States and Chile – A Strategic Partnership

Washington, DC - Today President Barack Obama hosted Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria at the White House. Their meeting underscored the long-standing partnership between the United States and Chile, which is rooted in a strong commitment to democratic traditions; economic integration and open markets; increasing cooperation in areas such as energy, science and technology, and education; and addressing global challenges in security and development.

The visit highlighted our cooperation in the following areas:

Trade, Travel, and Small Business Cooperation

  • 2004 Free Trade Agreement and Completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership:  The 2004 U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been a tremendous success in increasing exports and economic opportunities in our two countries.  Since the FTA entered into force ten years ago, two-way bilateral trade has grown to $28 billion.  U.S. goods exports to Chile have increased by 545 percent and U.S. goods imports from Chile have increased by 180 percent since 2003.  Based on our shared commitment to open markets and high standards for trade and investment, the United States and Chile are now working together, along with ten other countries, to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.  The TPP will build on our FTA and extend ambitious 21st century trade and investment rules that will open markets for U.S. and Chilean exporters.

  • Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement and the Visa Waiver Program:  The United States and Chile will sign a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) on the sidelines of President Obama and President Bachelet’s meeting.  CMAAs provide the legal framework to allow for the exchange of information and evidence to assist countries in the prevention, detection, and investigation of customs offenses.  They protect against crimes including duty evasion, trafficking, proliferation, money laundering, and terrorism-related activities.  Chile is the 70th country to sign a CMAA with the United States.  The signing of the CMAA will enhance cooperation on law enforcement and build on bilateral efforts to facilitate trade and travel, which were strengthened considerably in February 2014 with Chile’s designation as the 38th country to participate in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

  • Promoting Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth:  The United States Small Business Administration and Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Chilean Ministry of Economy, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Promoting Entrepreneurship and the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.  The United States applauds the recent decision of the Bachelet Administration to establish 50 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) throughout Chile to promote small business growth, and will welcome a Chilean delegation to visit U.S. SBDCs in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Texas this summer. The MOU will enhance economic integration and job creation by connecting our countries’ small business support infrastructure through mechanisms such as Small Business Development Centers, export assistance centers, and women’s business centers.  In addition, the MOU will facilitate collaboration between U.S. and Chilean small business centers and similar centers in other countries in the hemisphere to help establish the Small Business Network of the Americas, which President Obama launched in preparation for the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

Energy Cooperation

  • Solar Plant Financing:  On June 27, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) approved a loan guarantee of up to $230 million to support the construction of a 141 megawatt solar power plant in the Atacama Desert region of Chile.  The plant will help diversify Chile’s energy sources and also supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative by facilitating some $97 million in U.S. exports.  Since June 2013, OPIC has approved almost $900 million of loan guarantees for the construction of six renewable energy generation projects in Chile. The United States Government is the largest lender to renewable energy projects in Chile.  These six energy projects are projected to avoid 2.1 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions annually, generate over $290 million in U.S. exports, and support over 400 jobs in the United States.

  • Technical Assistance:  The Department of State will implement up to $1.4 million in programs to strengthen Chile’s capacity to enhance its regional electrical integration, build technical capacity and market rules to integrate renewable energy with Chile’s power systems, maximize energy efficiency, and build capacity to develop unconventional gas resources.  Through this support, the United States will partner with Chile as it builds a unified internal power grid, works toward interconnected power systems from Colombia to Chile, and explores its unconventional gas potential.

  • Joint Statement on Enhanced Energy Cooperation:  The United States Department of Energy and Chilean Ministry of Energy will sign a Joint Statement to highlight expanded areas of bilateral energy cooperation between the United States and Chile, building on the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Clean Energy Technologies that was signed in 2009, and announcing an annual senior-level bilateral energy dialogue.  Areas of increased collaboration will include (1) oil and natural gas development, (2) electricity grid policy, technology, and management, (3) renewable energy, and (4) energy efficiency.  Engagements will be informed by commercial energy priorities in both countries, and will include national laboratories and private sector entities in both countries, as appropriate.

Education Cooperation

  • 100,000 Strong in the Americas:  Announced by President Obama during his 2011 visit to Chile, the United States and Chile continue to cooperate in the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative to increase the level of academic exchanges beyond the 3,000 Americans that study in Chile and 2,000 Chileans that study in the United States per year.  Through the first three rounds of the 100,000 Strong Innovation Fund capacity-building grant competitions, five grants totaling over $211,000 will fund partnerships between U.S. and Chilean universities.  Chile’s Fulbright program, which is one of the oldest in the region and will celebrate its 60th year anniversary this year, recently initiated a teacher-exchange program for U.S. and Chilean high school teachers, and allocated scholarships for qualified Chilean high school teachers to apply to Masters in Education programs in the United States to improve teaching skills.

Trilateral Development and Security Cooperation

  • Expansion of Partnership in the Caribbean: The United States and Chile have signed today a Declaration of Intent to launch a Caribbean-wide trilateral partnership campaign, which will leverage our combined assets and expertise to help promote growth, effective governance, and security in the Caribbean.  Led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Chilean Agency for International Cooperation (AGCI), our Caribbean partnership will start with activities in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.  These programs will focus on youth employment and government capacity in the Dominican Republic, evaluation and analysis of public investments in Haiti, and promoting good governance and countering gender-based violence in Jamaica. 

  • Expansion of Trilateral Development Cooperation Initiative: The United States Department of State and Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will build on the U.S.-Chile Trilateral Development Cooperation Initiative that was launched by Presidents Obama and Bachelet in 2009, and which is currently active in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Paraguay.  The MOU will establish a framework and facilitate consultations that enhance our joint cooperation outside of the Americas, particularly in the Asia-Pacific Region.

  • Defense Cooperation: Building on our longstanding partnership in defense, the United States and Chile are collaborating on efforts to build capacity in Central America.  Chile is making important contributions to regional security by training Guatemalan pilots and incorporating Salvadoran and Honduran infantry platoons into Chile's battalion serving in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti.

Global Issues

  • Global Health Security: The United States and Chile pledged to prioritize the Global Health Security Agenda across sectors of government to accelerate action to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental.  Moving forward, both nations will work together on an Action Package to further rapid response capacity and build capacity to implement the World Health Organization International Health Regulations.

  • Nuclear Security:  The United States and Chile continue to support the Nuclear Security Summit process and have pledged to incorporate international nuclear security guidelines into national laws and regulations.  We will work together, along with other leading nations, toward a 2016 Summit that will continue to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture.

  • Our Ocean Conference:  As a Pacific nation, Chile recently announced that it will host next year’s follow-up conference to the United States’ Our Ocean Conference, which was held June 16-17 in Washington.  The Our Ocean conference brought together Heads of State, Foreign Ministers, policy makers, environmentalists, scientists, and entrepreneurs from over 80 countries, many of which made national-level commitments to address sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification.  Chile’s conference will provide an important opportunity to take stock and ensure accountability for those commitments.

  • Combating Trafficking in Persons:  The United States Department of Homeland Security and Chilean Ministry of Interior will sign a Joint Statement on Combating Trafficking in Persons, which will increase cooperation among law enforcement agencies with an aim to target, disrupt, dismantle, and deter human trafficking criminal enterprises; enhance bilateral exchanges of information on known organized criminal groups engaged in human trafficking, including their routes of transport; and share experiences regarding the protection of vulnerable populations and training of public officials to better identify victims of trafficking, particularly children and women.

Additional information