At a meeting organized by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Chilean Chamber of Commerce of North America (AmCham), which began at 4:00 p.m. in Los Angeles (7:00 p.m. in Chile), President Gabriel Borek on Tuesday participated in the United States with CEOs of companies from That country are in Chile. Nearly 30 large companies were invited to the meeting.
Among those invited to the call round shaped table Luis Valdes, Chilean President of Principal International, the company controlling AFP Cuprum at the local level, was present. The CEO sat just three seats away from Borek, who was in turn flanked by Chile’s ambassador to the United States, Juan Gabriel Valdes, and Economy Minister Nicolas Grau.
The guest list included Juan Ignacio Rubiolo, President and Executive Vice President of International Business at AES Andes; Shannon Kellogg, for Amazon; Ernesto Torres, CEO of Citibank Latin America; Marcos Araujo, CFO of Coca-Cola Latin America; Susan Greenwell on behalf of Metlife, the company that controls AFP Provida in Chile; and Carlos Murillo, Pfizer’s regional president. There were also representatives from Prudential, a company with a stake in AFP Habitat; As well as executives from Google, Microsoft, Fedex, BlackRock, Bank of America, and others.
In addition to the American executives, there were also local union leaders who attended: Juan Sutil, of the Federation of Production and Trade, and Bernardo Larrin Matt, the former president of Sovova.
Government sources confirmed that the president made a very good impression on the tone of the talks with the American business community. Moreover, the appointment was extended much longer than the budget, precisely because Borek wanted it this way, so his schedule was postponed by about an hour. This was reflected when advisers approached him to remind him that he needed to attend another meeting, but he replied, “No, I want to stay.”
Those who know the duration of the meeting emphasized that there was a lot of discussion on the issue of pensions. Insurance watchdogs and AFP expressed gratitude for the suspension of retirement fund withdrawals, but demanded more certainty about the upcoming pension reform, and also stated that they wanted to participate in the process of adjusting the system.
Regarding the course of the constitutional process, sources present indicate that it was taken in general terms, and that the president saw greater restraint on the part of American businessmen than on the Chilean right.
After the meeting, the representative of the company controlling AFP Coprom, Luis Valdes, commented that although the meeting was expected to last one hour, it finally lasted much longer. “Little was said about the founding process, and the central point was the relationship between American investors and the new government,” Valdes explained.
He added, “The president prepared a speech, and the truth is I will say he was very surprising in terms of what he said and how he brought things up: a very recent view of the opportunities that Chile offers to foreign investors. He was also very clear about the kind of relationship that he expected in terms of foreign investment.”
The CEO went on to say, “It was a very positive approach, and I think there was a lot of energy and encouragement at the end. Certainly there are so many different sectors, from finance, pensions, energy, education, so it’s hard to give a great summary of everything, but it’s The important thing is to emphasize that the US foreign investment in Chile is $40 billion, it’s very important. It’s important for the country, and I imagine the important thing is for that investment to grow.”
Valdés also noted that “there are some concepts that the president has touched upon, and I made some notes, but he certainly sees foreign investment well as a partner for the country, cooperation between governments and private parties. Not only does investment make sense for him, but also technology transfer, that is, cooperation.” And the transfer of knowledge, he has emphasized this a lot many times. I think there is a lot that can be done.”
In response to a question about what was discussed regarding the pension reform, which he was asked to be part of the reform, Valdes said, “The necessary consultations will be directed through the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo until … you have to understand here that foreign investment in the field of financial services specifically In the pension chapter, it’s very important. Here we have very large numbers, between 4.5 and 5 billion dollars that have just been invested by three companies, Principal and Prudential and Metlife. This is an amount that represents more than 10% of the total US foreign investment in Chile, out of stock, so what the American Chamber of Commerce requested seems very appropriate to me, and certainly the president agreed.” This is, “About having an official inquiry channel.”
Paula Estevez, Managing Director of AmCham, who was also present at the meeting, said, “We appreciate President Borek’s willingness to meet with American companies, in a space for honest and friendly conversations.” He said that “it was a very good example, (…) where we had the opportunity to discuss shared visions of moving towards inclusive and sustainable economic development.”
The executive added, “We are addressing the importance of progress in the changes that the state certainly requires and a long-term vision to continue to attract foreign investment, as well as the importance of cooperation between the public and private sectors to contribute to the well-being of people.” Finally, he stated that “key issues for promoting US investment and sustainable economic development for Chile were discussed, as well as issues in which US companies have extensive experience and best practices, such as climate change, diversity and inclusion, and the role of the digital economy.”
They were clear from the government that their interlocutors were CEOs of companies in that country, because of the operations they already had in Chile, or because of potential new investments they could make locally. The idea, informed sources say, was to inform businessmen of the government’s economic plan, especially with regard to foreign investment, as well as to ensure that at the local level there is legal certainty and a good institutional framework, despite the fact that the country is going through changes.
In fact, President Borek spoke about it before this meeting. After an appointment with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garste, he indicated what he expected from the appointment with the business. He indicated that he would seek at the meeting to inform businessmen “what the situation is like today in Chile and that they know that our country is a safe and desirable place to invest and we can grow together.”
He added to the above, “We are very clear that to move forward and improve our living conditions, we have to work together in the public sector and the private sector.”
When asked about the reception of the North American business community regarding the constitutional process and the structural reforms being promoted by his government, the Head of State confirmed the reception he received from the CEOs of Canadian companies, as in some of his initial conversations. In the United States, “very positive.”
Entrepreneurs of the world understand that it is necessary to change and improve our organizations to adapt them to the current era. And that is exactly what the foundational process sought, in my view,” Borek added.
He said there is a high assessment of Chile’s institutional strength by the business world. “And the feeling I had, at least with conversations with different business leaders from different countries, is that they appreciate that in Chile we chose, in a moment of crisis, more democracy. And he emphasized that this is what the foundational process means: more democracy.”