RSIS and the Embassy of Chile co-organised a public lecture titled “Chile-Southeast Asia Relations: Fulfilling Opportunities” on 15 August 2023. Ambassador Alex Wetzig Abdale, Secretary General for Foreign Policy of Chile, began the lecture by noting that global events such as rising US-China tensions, disruption of global supply chains following the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have impacted Latin American countries. He argued that while there are elements of continuity in Chile’s foreign policy such as promotion of democracy and respect for human rights, and strengthening of relations with neighbouring countries which carry historical relevance, there are new foreign policy priorities as well such as feminist foreign policy focused on women empowerment and gender equality, transitioning to a green and sustainable economy, and promoting actions to mitigate climate crisis.
Noting Chile’s status as a Development Partner of ASEAN, Amb Abdale highlighted three pillars of Chile-ASEAN relations. The diplomatic pillar entails expansion of political presence in the region by appointing resident and non-resident Ambassadors and organising High Level Visits. The commercial and trade pillar furthers multilateral trade agreements and the Pacific Alliance-ASEAN relations. The cooperation pillar supports bilateral and triangular cooperation programmes on agriculture and governance initiated by the Chilean Agency for International Development Cooperation.
Amb Abdale concluded the lecture by emphasising that Chile views relations with Southeast Asia and ASEAN as a strategic priority. He provided a roadmap of Chile’s short term goals which include: (i) strengthening high level political dialogue in 2024 with countries in the region and ASEAN; (ii) continued exploration of new trade opportunities in the region to increase market share participation in ASEAN countries; (iii) carrying out a specialised search for technological exports; (iv) diversifying its export matrix, attracting knowledge, technology, and innovations generated in the Southeast Asia region.