x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chile to open Abu Dhabi embassy

The Latin American nation will open its first full diplomatic outpost in the GCC in the UAE's capital as trade grows between the two countries.

DUBAI // Increased trade between Chile and the UAE, which imported some Dh395.6 million ($107.7m) in goods from the South American nation last year, will result in Chile opening its first embassy in the GCC this weekend. Government officials from both countries, who gathered in Dubai to mark the start of a week of events to celebrate all things Chilean, said yesterday the embassy in Abu Dhabi would help oil the wheels of the Chilean economy and would result in more business being done.

The Abu Dhabi base and the Chilean trade office in Dubai, which has been open since 2007, will be used as the hub of exports throughout the GCC region, worth more than Dh931m last year. The UAE takes a hefty 42 per cent of the Chilean goods brought into the GCC, including such diverse products as apples, wood and horses, making it the largest importer of such products in the organisation. It is followed closely by Saudi Arabia, which imported goods from Chile worth Dh383.5m last year.

The embassy is expected to increase trade throughout the region and could result in more food items, such as halal meat, being imported. Although Chile does not currently have a halal licence, it is applying for accreditation to produce meat suitable for Islamic countries - following in Brazil's footsteps - and is expecting approval early next year. "There is a very strong relationship between Chile and the UAE," said Carlos Salas, the Chilean trade commissioner for the UAE. "Chile is the 17th biggest exporter in the world, but we want to be in the top 10. One way to do that is to improve exportation to the GCC.

"Dubai has seen an impressive growth so it was important to have our trade office based here. We are mainly a provider of foodstuffs and in the GCC, those kinds of goods are not being produced." Timber from Chile is the single most valuable commodity making its way almost 15,000km to the UAE. Last year pinus radiata wood worth Dh199m was shipped in. Apples worth more than Dh47m arrive by the shipload every year, followed by cellulose pulp for paper worth more than Dh29.9m and tanker ships and salmon, each valued at about Dh26m.

Chilean officials are hoping to negotiate a free trade pact and preferential rights with the improvement in relations between the two countries. The increase in trade could be controversial because of the environmental impact of transporting goods the considerable distance from South America, with a single flight from Santiago to Dubai equivalent to 1.56 tonnes of carbon emissions. Mr Salas said work was under way to reduce environmental damage by reducing the shipping journey time from 40 days and by transporting the bulk of goods by sea instead of air.

A delegation from Chile is in the UAE this week to weigh up business and investment opportunities while Emirati officials are also presently staging a visit. @Email:tyaqoob@thenational.ae