The Bilateral Relations between Chile and the United Arab Emirates have been growing exponentially ever since Chile opened its Trade Promotion office in Dubai in 2006 and later, in 2009, its Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
We were the third Latin-American embassy to open in the UAE after Brazil and Argentina. Today, Latin America is represented by 11 diplomatic missions in Abu Dhabi.
As the first resident Ambassador of Chile in the UAE, I was very fortunate to be present from the very beginning. With the opening of the UAE Embassy in Santiago in 2011 and the repeated visits to Chile of HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan since 2009, as well as HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2014, our relationship has come a long way in that time.
In 2017, we signed the visa waiver agreement which will be followed by direct Emirates flights from Dubai to Santiago this July, a culminating point that will ensure the growth of business and tourism – and certainly open a new chapter when it comes to both sides knowing each other better.
This is an exciting time to explore new business opportunities for savvy investors, traders and, of course, the UAE Sovereign Wealth Funds, which have had a presence in Chile since 2010.
Talking about bilateral trade, Chile’s exports to the UAE are led by the agro-industry. Fresh fruit (apples, kiwi, pears and berries) and dried fruit (walnuts, almonds, prunes and others) are still the highest volumes, followed by salmon and various other products such as meat, poultry, pulps, frozen foods, juices and water. However, there are still interesting opportunities in that sector and plenty of room for growth in the wider region the UAE caters to.
As an example, it is known that salmon production and supply is still well below worldwide demand, so investing in production is a rather safe bet. Emirates offer better connectivity for cargo, which immediately opens up the fresh seafood sector, including the world famous Chilean seabass and Pacific oysters.
Aside from the food business, another promising sector is innovation and technology. Chile has taken a leading role in the production of nanoparticles, in particular copper and lithium particles which have myriad applications from health to telecommunications to defence. The innovation sector is a new form of business that creates synergies between market segments and, albeit not without risk, can give exponential returns. Technologies for cost effective water purification, low-energy desalination, resistance-less micro conductors and various other inventions have sprouted out of our innovation sector as a result of private and government initiatives that foster creativity and innovation.
Timber is still also one of the main imports into the UAE and has been for nearly 30 years, and it is expected to continue as the GCC construction segment maintains its pace. Another promising sector is pharmaceuticals, with great opportunities now that GCC regulations have aligned to international standards.
There are also great investment opportunities within Chile. The new flight routes will attract growth in tourism, in which there is plenty of room for growth. In areas such as Patagonia, the Southern Glacier fields, Easter Island, Torres del Paine, Cape Horn or even the Atacama Desert, tourism has grown in double digits in the past decade, yet the hospitality industry has not caught up entirely with demand, leaving a gap for investors to fill.
Mining is also an open field and despite Chile being the largest copper producer in the world, other minerals such as gold, silver or iron ore have not been fully tapped into and current market prices promise good returns. Real estate is another sector that in Chile has shown tremendous resilience and stability even during the worst of the world economic crisis, with returns ranging from nine percent to 14 percent as a 20-year average.
Last but not least is the renewable energy sector. Chile doesn’t have enough fossil fuels for even a quarter of its internal consumption so the country has had a great incentive to develop renewable energy sources in a market where government subsidies in this sector are not needed. Aside from hydropower, which places Chile in the top five countries in the world, solar, geothermal and other cutting edge technologies have seen successful projects across the country and provided impressive returns for investors.
There is nothing you can read that will replace what you see with your own eyes or feel with your own senses, so why not take advantage of the Emirates flight to Santiago to explore Chile as a source of promising business opportunities and while you are at it, enjoy some of the wonders of history and nature we have to offer?
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