On the occasion of the High Level Dialogue summoned last month by Chile’s foreign minister Heraldo Muñoz, New Zealand’s trade minister Todd McClay held a conference organized by the Chile Pacific Foundation and the New Zealand embassy to Chile.After an introduction by Chile Pacific Foundation director Dr. Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, minister McClay identified three areas in which his country and Chile could collaborate.
New Zealand’s experience is valuable in regard of its similarities with Chile – a country isolated from the rest of the world, rich in natural resources and home to a large native population. Among the differences between the two countries Chile’s larger population (three times bigger) and New Zealand’s higher per capita income (three times richer—USD 36.000 vs. USD 14.000) are some of the most important.
Energy. Both Chile and New Zealand are located in a ring of high volcanic activity, with the latter being a leader on geothermic energy exploitation and in supplying services related to that industry. The two nations could collaborate to bring out the good of potentially negative phenomena, like earthquakes, the minister said.
Economic openness. Both economies are among the world’s most open, which in itself is beneficial: the OECD estimates that a 10% increase in economic openness is associated with a 4% increase in GDP. However, “A country is as strong as its weakest free trade agreement”, McClay explained.
In that regard, he noted how important it is to save the TPP’s high quality aspects for future agreements. Moreover, he agreed with Chile’s former president Eduardo Frei, also an extraordinary ambassador to the Asia-Pacific region, who argued that small and open economies should work together to replace the void left by the TPP failure. “That’s why we are so interested in the Pacific Alliance”, McClay stated.
Ethnic integration. New Zealand is known for the successful social integration of its native community, deriving from the Waitangi treaty. Signed almost two centuries ago, the pact recognized the Maori rights of property of land and forests, and gave them the same rights as the British crown subjects.