Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and the Foreign Minister of Chile Alberto van Klaveren met on 22 May in Santiago for the UK-Chile High-Level Political Dialogue to celebrate the historic and enduring partnership between the United Kingdom and Chile and to deepen the UK and Chile’s diplomatic, economic, financial, trade, business and defence links. The ministers set the direction for the relationship between 2 likeminded, liberal democracies committed to working together to solve global challenges. Fifty years on from the coup in Chile, the ministers reaffirmed their shared values and commitments to protecting and promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
1. The UK-Chile bilateral relationship: - 200 years of bilateral consular relations
2023 sees the 200th anniversary of the appointment of Great Britain’s first Consul General to Chile in 1823. In this historic anniversary year, both ministers noted the importance of the UK and Chile’s extensive people-to-people links forged over the last 2 centuries and expressed their appreciation of the diverse activities being planned to mark this significant milestone, showcasing the historic links and friendship between our 2 countries.
Both ministers pledged to help strengthen the close and expanding connections between the people, businesses, cultural and higher education sectors, and civil society of Chile and the UK. This forward-looking partnership will promote the exchange of people, ideas, trade and investment to the mutual benefit and prosperity of Chile and the UK.
In the year of the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, the ministers recalled the visit to Chile of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla in 2009 and the State Visit to Chile of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1968.
2. Bilateral trade and investment
Both ministers noted our strong and longstanding trade relationship and welcomed the progress made on CPTPP, through Chile’s accession to the agreement and the UK’s conclusion of negotiations, highlighting the new opportunities that this agreement will open for the expansion of bilateral trade.
Both ministers welcomed the 9% increase in bilateral trade in 2022, and pledged to continue bilateral efforts to boost trade, including through the UK-Chile modernisation roadmap, the recently agreed memorandum of understanding on financial sector development, and Chile Day in London.
3. Global challenges
Both ministers agreed that the post-pandemic international environment had seen an increased threat of authoritarianism, an increase in the price of food and essential goods, and slower economic growth, affecting the wellbeing and quality of life of citizens. This contributed to other transnational challenges such as large-scale migration, the smuggling of people, narcotics and weapons, and illicit finance.
In this context, Foreign Secretary Cleverly and Foreign Minister Van Klaveren reiterated their shared determination to uphold international law and the rules-based international system and to address the full range of transnational challenges.
These shared values underpin the UK and Chile’s mutual commitment to effective multilateralism, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
The ministers pledged to continue the UK and Chile’s co-ordination, bilaterally and in international fora, in promoting non-proliferation and ensuring accountability for the use of chemical weapons; promoting a safe, open and secure cyberspace; combatting disinformation and other threats to our shared values and interests; addressing global energy security and food security; enhancing the safety, sustainability and security of outer space; and taking forward the 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Both ministers deplored Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by Russian forces, and ongoing attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure. They reaffirmed commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and reiterated the need for Russian troops to withdraw immediately, completely and unconditionally from the entire internationally recognised territory of Ukraine. Foreign Secretary Cleverly welcomed President Boric’s regional leadership condemning Russia’s illegal invasion. Both ministers agreed to continue to denounce Russia’s illegal invasion, maintain support for efforts to ensure justice for all victims of the conflict, and explore further opportunities to support Ukraine and its recovery.
Foreign Secretary Cleverly welcomed Chile’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council, noting that Chile and the UK’s membership coincides this year. Both ministers agreed that the values of democracy and human rights are increasingly threatened and violated, requiring a prompt, effective and co-ordinated response. They committed to continue close co-ordination on human rights issues, including the rights of persons with disabilities, LGBTI+ rights, gender equality, and the freedom of religion and belief. As well as supporting UN reform to better address global challenges, both ministers recognised the key priority for both governments of protecting and strengthening democracy and human rights, in the face of increasing challenge.
Both ministers also noted the compatibility of the UK’s Women and Girls Strategy and Chile’s Feminist Foreign Policy, and pledged to work in partnership to progress our shared human rights objectives.
Both ministers celebrated the signature of a UK-Chile Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Global Health. This agreement stands upon strong foundations of co-operation on health policy, digital health, global health security and pandemic preparedness, including through the ongoing National Variant Assessment Platform collaboration.
4. Climate change, Antarctica, science and technology collaboration
Ministers Cleverly and Van Klaveren agreed we must address the exhaustion of natural resources, the destruction of the environment and climate change. To face these challenges, the ministers agreed that national and collective measures must continue to be adopted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through sustainable economies, a transition towards renewable and clean energy sources and zero-emission strategies to keep the 1.5 degree target alive.
The ministers agreed to collaborate on the implementation of emission reduction commitments (ie Nationally Determined Contributions) via policy exchange and progress towards a circular economy with diverse energy sources, and for more sustainable, diverse, transparent, responsible and resilient supply chains of critical minerals.
Both ministers celebrated the progress made on the transition to a net-zero economy while recognising many challenges remained in the implementation phase, including energy security. Considering the importance of electrification and clean energy sources, lithium production, low carbon and green hydrogen will be crucial to this transition.
Given the importance of this shared objective, the UK pledged £2 million to support academic exchanges and capacity building projects in the lithium industry in the lithium triangle of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina with a focus on building a scholarship programme for outstanding students. In addition, the UK and Chile will continue our dialogue on green hydrogen and Chile will have access to a regional programme for hydrogen technology scholarships. The UK and Chile also agreed to continue close co-operation on Antarctic issues and to prepare a new UK-Chile statement on Antarctic co-operation.
Both ministers reiterated the shared commitment of Chile and the United Kingdom to the protection of the oceans and their better governance, including by promoting the adoption, signature and prompt entry into force of the Agreement for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) and support for other, particularly developing, countries in doing so. They stressed the importance of the Agreement in reinforcing the central role of UNCLOS as the cornerstone of international ocean governance. Minister Van Klaveren looked forward to the United Kingdom’s careful consideration of Chile’s desire to host the headquarters of the future Secretariat of the BBNJ Agreement.
5. Defence Co-operation
Foreign Secretary Cleverly and Foreign Minister Van Klaveren recognised the importance of defence relations between the UK and Chile, noting the strong naval links going back over 200 years. They noted space, cyber and national shipbuilding as areas of ongoing defence collaboration. The 2 ministers also reaffirmed the UK and Chile’s commitment to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and its global implementation. They confirmed the UK Ministry of Defence and the Chilean Defence Ministry will continue their strategic defence dialogue, sharing best practice and identifying opportunities for future co-ordination and co-operation.