Chilean Ambassador to Viet Nam Fernando Urrutia.
(VNS)On the occasion of the 202nd anniversary of Chile's independence tomorrow, the country's Ambassador to Viet Nam, Fernando Urrutia, addresses the readers of Viet Nam News
One day like today, but 202 years ago, on September 18, 1810, a large group of Chilean patriots gathered together in the main building of the Spanish colonial government in Santiago, the capital of Chile, to elect the first "Junta de Gobierno" (provisional government) and to declare the independence of the country from the Spanish Empire.
It still took some time and a war against the royalists to obtain our complete freedom, but on that date (September 18, 1810) we celebrate the beginning of the process in Chile to become an independent country. A Declaration of Independence was officially issued by Chile on February 12, 1818 and formally recognised by Spain in 1844, when full diplomatic relations were established.
During the past 22 years, after the return of the democracy to Chile in 1990, my country began a spectacular development process in many fields, including social, political, human rights, economy, infrastructure, etc. The economy of Chile is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank, and is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations, leading Latin American countries in human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalisation, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption. However, a lot of work is still to be done in many areas, like in the field of economic inequality.
Internationally, Chile is a very active country in the multilateral area, contributing in different fields in the United Nations, the WTO, ILO, in Peacekeeping Operations, disarmament, and many other groups or organisations. In May 2010 Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD.
|Upward progress: Port Of Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. — Photo Courtesy Embassy of Chile
With Viet Nam, our relationship is old and rich. Diplomatic relations were established in 1971. From then until today both countries have been working shoulder to shoulder in every international forum in which we share our values, our common vision of the world and the international politic of peace, friendship and development. APEC and the TPP process are some modern examples of this fruitful relationship.
2011 and 2012 were historical years in the relationship between Chile and Viet Nam. In May 2011 we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. In February this year we received a visit from the President of the Senate of Chile, and in March we had a visit from the President of the Republic Mr Sebastian Pinera. He came to Viet Nam with a very large delegation of almost one hundred people, including members of Parliament, mayors, union leaders, businessmen and journalists. This was the third visit of a Chilean President to Viet Nam since 2004.
Another cornerstone of the relationship between our two countries was the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between Chile and Viet Nam, in November 2011. We are sure that the enforcement of this treaty in the next few weeks will provide a significant boost to our bilateral trade.
In the past two years we have seen growth in the exchange of visits of senior and high-level officials. There is a strong relationship between the Chilean Parliament and the National Assembly of Viet Nam, as well as a close and fruitful co-operation in different sectors like mining, agriculture, education and finance, among others.
This year we started with an exchange programme of scholars and academics from our countries. We are also trying to develop – according to our possibilities – a higher and better cultural presence in both Chile and Viet Nam.
In the economic field, Chile attended the historic forum called "Viet Nam-Latin America: Counterparts for Development", organised in July by the Government of Viet Nam.
Last year our bilateral trade reached nearly US$500 million, and we are confident that soon, with the help of our FTA, we will double this amount to $1 billion. That was the commitment made by President Pinera and President Truong Tan Sang in March this year, during the former's state visit to Ha Noi. Once the FTA comes into force, 83.5 per cent of total exports from Viet Nam to Chile will enter with 0 per cent duty and tax. We hope to see an increase in the current 597 products "made in Viet Nam" that we can find in Chilean markets today, most of them shoes, electric products, coffee and garments.
Our Governments are now working in a Tourist Visa Waiver Agreement that will strongly contribute to further increasing the number of Chilean and Vietnamese tourists visiting both countries. The number of tourists has grown a lot in the last three years. Today, Viet Nam is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – attraction for Chilean tourists in Southeast Asia. Despite the long distance, we hope to receive in the future more and more Vietnamese tourists in Chile, and of course more businesspersons. One of the best ways of gaining a better knowledge of the countries is to meet more people, to see the beautiful geography and to understand the rich culture, no matter the distance. That is the challenge we have set!
Only a few days after Viet Nam's National Day, on September 2, the people and the Government of Chile, and of course the Embassy of Chile in Viet Nam salutes the people and the Government of Viet Nam for the celebration of their own independence. We are people and countries united by a long friendship, by a close history, and by a brilliant future. — VNS