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Summary: Santiago 2016 - Chile's Economy within a Global Context

Heraldo Muñoz el conferencia de AS/COA en Santiago, Chile

Heraldo Muñoz (Image: Jesús Inostroza)

April 28, 2016

"Countries that grow do so b/c they are more productive.” –@Min_Hacienda on Chile's productivity challenge
“It’s very important to sign the TPP,” said @HeraldoMunoz at #globalCL. It'll boost Chile's agricultural industry.

Opening Remarks

  • Susan Segal, President and CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas


  • Heraldo Muñoz, Minister of Foreign Affairss, Chile     


  • Rodrigo Valdés, Ministro de Hacienda de Chile

Panel: Chile's Economy within a Global Cotnext

  • Judy Brown, Head of External Affairs, Rio Tinto
  • Oliver Flögel, General Manager, Microsoft Chile
  • Patricio Jottar, General Manager, CCU
  • Kathleen Barclay, Principal, Asesorías KCB Ltda.


  • Rodrigo Vergara, Governor of the Central Bank of Chile

Lea el resumen en español.

In the opening remarks for the 2016 Santiago conference, AS/COA CEO and President Susan Segal began by pointing out the unique election cycle taking place in the United States and how the anti-immigrant rhetoric of some candidates is contrary to the roots of American culture. This will not affect the United States’ strong institutions, assured Segal.

Like the United States, Chile also has strong institutions, she added. That, coupled with the macroeconomic stability of the country, continues to draw international investors.

Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Heraldo Muñoz followed with a keynote address. 

The minister spoke about the differences between Chile’s current economic deceleration and the previous decades’ growth of the commodity boom. He added that even though Chile’s economy is slow, it is intact. The challenge now is to grow inclusively and sustainably when it comes to the environment, he said.

Muñoz went on to outline Chile’s foreign policy agenda with its regional neighbors, Europe, and Asia. “It’s very important to sign the TPP,” he said in regards to the Trans-Pacific Partnership between 12 countries, which includes Chile, Mexico, and Peru from Latin America. Aside from setting the trade standards for this century, Muñoz highlighted how the deal would boost Chile’s agricultural industry.

Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdés focused his presentation on the country’s productivity challenge. “In the long term, countries that grow do so because they are more productive,” said Valdés, and Chile’s productivity has been trending downward. 

He noted three other points that would boost economic growth: investing in infrastructure (which would reduce high energy costs, among other benefits), developing human capital through better training and education, and improving regulations and access to credit to help small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs).

Afterward, a panel with representatives from Microsoft Chile, Cervecerías Unidas (UCC), and the mining company Rio Tinto spoke about the opportunities in Chile and the region as a whole. While some countries such as Argentina and Mexico have seen an impressive technological transformation, said Microsoft’s Oliver Flögel, SMEs have been less able to develop digital strategies in comparison with large corporations.

Such is the case in Chile as well. Yet, UCC’s Patricio Jottar noted that Chile could be the first Latin American country to reach a level of development that’s “not just economic, but social and environmental as well.”

The conference ended with a presentation by Chile’s Central Bank president, Rodrigo Vergara. The economist spoke about the external shock as a result of the economic slowdown in China, the top consumer of Chilean copper. 

Between 1987 and 1997, when Chile benefitted from the appreciation in the price of the red metal, the South American economy grew at an average of 7 percent. For the upcoming ten years, however, the Central Bank projects an average growth of 3.5 percent.