RSIS Distinguished Public Lecture by Mr Eduardo Frei, Ambassador-at-Large for the Asia-Pacific Region, Former President of Chile, and Former Chairman of the Senate, Chile
Enhancing Latin America's Relations and Cooperation with East Asia
Chile and East Asia countries are pretty distant in geographic, language and cultural terms nevertheless their diplomatic and economic ties are more than one century old.
In the last twenty-six years the connections between the extreme sides of Pacific Ocean had dramatically increased. Chile and East Asia nations have created a wide and vibrant network of trade and cooperation agreements to boost economic and financial growth together with social prosperity and cultural exchanges.
The recent signature of the TPP offers a precious moment to rethink and analyze the last decades of relations between Chile and East Asia to delineate new perspectives and opportunities.
In this framework, RSIS and the Embassy of Chile have the pleasure to present an open dialogue with former Chilean President Mr. Eduardo Frei, who will share his expertise, knowledge, and points of view about the endeavors of enhancing the relationship between Latin America and South East Asia.
About the Speaker:
Mr Eduardo Frei was President of Chile from 1994 until 2000. He also chaired the Senate.
Mr Frei joined the Partido Demócrata Cristiano during the 1960s. At that time (1964) he worked for his father Mr Frei Montalva’s presidential campaign, resulting in Mr Frei Montalva being elected Chilean President for the term 1964-1970.
After graduation he went to the private sector, until mid-1980s he was a successful entrepreneur. Later on Mr Frei re-joined politics during the Pinochet regime. He was one of the founders of the Committee for the Promotion of Free Elections, a movement that urged Chilean citizens to work for the reestablishment of full democracy and the end of the authoritarian regime.
He was elected to the Senate in 1989, where he presided over the Treasury and Budget Commission and served as a member of the Housing Commission.
In 1991 he took over the leadership of the Christian Democratic Party. In 1993 he was elected President of the Republic with an overwhelming majority of 57.90% of the votes, for a six-year term.
In order to boost the socio-economic growth, Mr Frei Government adopted numerous reforms which were aimed at improving Chilean infrastructure as well as human capital. New ports, highways and airports were built and a profound reorganization in the educational system took place to increase the highly-skilled work force.
Those measures-together with the creation and implementation of a wide network of trade agreements (i.e. with Canada, European Union and Asia Pacific rims, etc.) – pushed the Chilean economic growth to over 5%.
Simultaneously, Mr Frei Government introduced new mechanisms to improve effectiveness and efficiency in the judiciary system. A special attention was given to protect the family as a fundamental institution: new bills were enacted to end the legal status with the rest of the population, for a better adoptions system in favour of parentless children, and against domestic violence (violence against women and children).
In 2005 he was again elected to the Senate, to represent a province in southern Chile.
In 2014 Mr Frei was appointed Ambassador-at-Large for the Asia Pacific Region by President Michelle Bachelet.
Mr Eduardo Frei was born on 24 June 1942. He graduated from the University of Chile with a major in civil engineering. He continued his education with an advanced training programme in Managerial and Technical Administration, in Italy.