Laguna Negro Francisco, Región de Atacama, Chile
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Bilateral Relations

Relations between Chile and India date back to the birth of India as an independent country. Thus, the Chilean diplomat and writer, Mr. Juan Marin, acting as a special envoy of the Government of Chile to participate in the ceremony of Independence of India in August 1947, being the only Latin American representative in that capacity in the celebrations. In 1949, and now as Chargé d' Affaires with Cabinet Letter, Mr. Juan Marín had the mission of establishing the first Chilean delegation, presenting his credentials on April 7 to the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1956 the Chilean delegation became Embassy and the first Chilean ambassador in India was the diplomat and writer Mr. Miguel Serrano.

Like the heads of mission and writers Juan Marin, Miguel Serrano, and Julio Barrenechea did, other prominent Chilean writers like Francisco Coloane and Augusto D' Kalmar have written about their experiences in India, creating a powerful image of the exotic and culturally rich India and their peaceful struggle for independence under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

Since 1956 there has been a significant flow of official visits by authorities from both countries. The first visit to India of a Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs was made by Mr. Osvaldo Sante – Marie Soruco in April 1957. In 1968, The Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, visited Chile. She was received by the President of the Republic of Chile, HE Eduardo Frei Montalva. This official visit demonstrated a political affinity between the two governments. On that occasion, the Heads of the Governments made a joint declaration committing to mutually develop areas such as culture, trade, and international cooperation.

Since the 90' there was has been a strong effort by both governments to promote political and economic relations. Thus, the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications of India, KP Unnikrishnan, visited Chile in 1990. Two years later the Minister of Agriculture of Chile visited India and, on January 13 of 1993, the first cultural agreement between both States was signed. Meanwhile, the first visit by an Indian President to Chile was made by HE Mr. Dayan Shanker Sharma. That year a Memorandum on Political consultations was signed, creating a mechanism of communication at the highest level between the authorities of both countries. Its fifth version was held on October 8, 2010, in Chile. On that occasion, the Indian delegation was headed by the Ambassador Mr. Vivek Kajtu, West Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs. The sixth version was held on 31 October 2014 in New Delhi and the Chilean delegation was headed by Vice Minister Mr. Edgardo Riveros. The seventh version should take place in 2020.

One of the most important milestones in this relationship took place with the official visit of HE Ricardo Lagos in January 2005. This visit was the first official visit by a Chilean President to India. On that occasion various agreements were signed, covering a wide range of economic and agricultural issues. One was the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement through which both States expressed their intention to deepen their economic relations. In this context, the negotiations to sign a "Partial Scope Trade Agreement" began. This agreement was signed in 2006 and entered into force in 2007.

Between 14 and 20 January 2007 the Minister of Economy, Alejandro Ferreiro, visited India accompanied by a public-private delegation. On that occasion, the Minister participated as the only Latin-American speaker in the Partnership Summit XIII, a business meeting organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry held in Bangalore from 17 to 18 January. During his visit, the Minister and his delegation visited 12 companies in the IT sector in three cities where they could corroborate the Indian progress in this sector.

Meanwhile, since 2005 a strong cooperation between the Chilean and Indian Armed Forces started. Thus, in that year three Chiefs from the Chilean Armed Forces and the Chilean Minister of Defense visited India. In 2007, both countries established defenses attaches in the Diplomatic Missions of Chile and India in Nueva Delhi and Santiago. The same year Chilean and Indian authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Defense. Under this scenario of cooperation, the Chilean training ship "Esmeralda" visited the Indian ports of Cochin (September 2008) and Mumbai (2012).

Chile and India share values such as respect for individual freedom and human rights, democratic values, the rule of law, and tolerance. Chile shares India's views on a number of international issues, especially of developmental concern. Chile shares India's concerns over the threat of international terrorism and has regularly condemned the terrorist attack that India has suffered (Chilean Parliament strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament and the attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008).

Good relations between both countries have been reflected in the number of official visits. The visit of H.E. Mrs. Pratibha Patil to Chile in 2008 marked another milestone in the bilateral relationship. This State visit created a backdrop for intensifying ongoing linkages between countries.

 On the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the diplomatic relations between both States in March 2009, the President HE Mrs. Michelle Bachelet visited India along with a high level delegation comprised by Minister, Members of Parliament, businessmen, and Academics. This official visit included the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Agra. Thus, authorities of both countries signed MOU's on Cooperation in Education, the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes and Renewable Energy and Geology and Mineral Resources. On this occasion, both countries agreed to advance in the negotiations of the extension of the Partial Trade Agreement signed in 2006.

With the aim to explore new ways to increase business opportunities and investments, the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry of India, Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, (accompanied by an Indian business delegation) visited Chile between 6 and 8 September 2010. In January 2011, the president of the Chilean Senate, Senator Jorge Pizarro, accompanied by the senators Mr. José García Ruminot and Mr. Guido Guirardi, made an official visit to India with the objective to reactivate the bilateral parliamentary agenda. In the same year, the Minister of State for Mining of India, Mr. Dinsha Patel, visited Chile to participate in the second meeting of the bilateral working group on Geology and Mineral Resource.

During 2012, the political bilateral relationship remained active. This year began with the visit of the President of the Chilean Senate, Mr. Guido Girardi, accompanied by Senators Juan Pablo Letelier and Carlos Cantero. During the month of May, the Minister of Agriculture of Chile, Mr. Luis Mayol, visited India. The main aim was to find new areas of cooperation and open markets for the entry of Chilean agricultural products. Also, during this year, the Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alfredo Moreno, visited India. This visit was done within the frame of the ("pro tempore") presidency of Chile of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC in Spanish). Thus, the Chilean Minister communicated to the Indian authorities the interest to work in an ambitious agenda CELAC – India. Regarding bilateral issues, the Minister expressed the Chilean commitment to advance in the negotiations of the extension of the Partial Trade Agreement and start the negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

In 2013 the Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr. Salman Kurshid, visited Chile in February and it was ratified the willingness to finish the process of an extension of the Partial Trade Agreement. In June, the Minister of Agriculture of Chile visited India. In September the Minister of New and Renewable Energy visited Chile and met the President of the Senate, the Foreign Affairs Minister, the Minister of Energy and the Committee on Foreign Investment. The General Director of Foreign Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile visited India in November to discuss with Indian authorities their experience in the Security Council and the guidelines and principles that guided the actions of Chile as a member of this instance (2014 – 2015).

In 2017, the first extension of the Partial Scope Agreement, in force since 2007, was completed, which allowed for the extension of the preferences granted by both countries covering a universe of around 2,300 tariff lines. In early 2018, a delegation of Chilean parliamentarians chaired by the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Mr. Fidel Espinoza, visited India and held meetings with the President of the Republic and with the Ministers of Commerce, Agriculture, and Women.

During that year, the Minister of State for Foreign Relations, General (R) Vijay Kumar Singh, visited Chile to participate in the Eighth India-Latin America Conclave, which was held in Chile on October 1 and 2. He also held meetings with the Ministers of Health and Transportation. In that month, an agricultural delegation chaired by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Antonio Walker, and integrated by the National Directors of SAG and ODEPA visited India. At the end of 2018, President Sebastián Piñera held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit that took place in Argentina.

In April 2019, the President of India Mr. Ram Nath Kovin visited Chile, where he met h President Sebastián Piñera. On that occasion three documents were signed: a Letter of Intent between the National Disability Service (SENADIS) and the Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of India, the renewal of the Memorandum for cooperation in the field of mining and geology and the cultural program 2019-2022. Also noteworthy are the meetings of President Sebastián Piñera with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the margins of the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, in June and the G7 meeting in August, in Biarritz, France. External Affairs ministers Teodoro Ribera and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar held a meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York in September.

At the end of April 2019, the second meeting of the Joint Administration Committee of the Agreement on Tariff Preferences was held, where it was agreed, among other matters, to advance its deepening. Thus, in August 2019, the Terms of Reference for the extension of the Agreement were signed in New Delhi.

Regarding the letter of intent between SENADIS and the DEPwD, after several exchanges of preliminary information on the work carried out in this field, a video conference was held in August between the highest authorities of both institutions. At that time it was planned to carry out information exchange visits focused on areas of mutual interest.

At the end of August 2019, a multisectoral delegation headed by former President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle visited India, in his capacity as Ambassador on Special Mission for Asia-Pacific. This visit followed previous visits in 2015 and 2017. The official delegation was led by the Undersecretary of International Economic Relations, Mr. Rodrigo Yáñez, and included the Director-General of Profile, Mr. Jorge O'Ryan, and the Director of InvestChile Mr. Cristián Rodríguez. The President of Wines of Chile, Mr. Aurelio Montes, and the President of the National Agriculture Society, Mr. Ricardo Ariztía, were also part of the business delegation.

During the visit, a business seminar was held on trade and investment opportunities between Chile and India, a master class on Chilean wines and their potential in India, a space session on investments in Chile, and commercial promotion activity for Chilean kiwi. In addition, various interviews and field visits were organized for the business delegation. On the bilateral level, the delegation held a meeting with the Indian Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar, and with senior officials of the Ministries of Commerce and Mining.

On another area of cooperation, in August 2019 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the National State Supply Center of Chile (CENABAST) and the Indian State Trade Corporation (STC), with the aim of advancing in the acquisition, by Chile, of generic medicines from India. Currently, both sides are working on the agreement between the respective regulatory entities: the Public Health Institute of LE (ISP) and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) of India.

In September, an Indian delegation headed by NITI Aayog and the Indian Ministry of Mining visited Chile, in order to assess the possibilities of lithium extraction in Chile. The visit originated after the video conference of the Working Group on mining and geology, established by the MoU for cooperation in these matters.

In December 2019, the first round for the second extension (the first one that took place in 2017) of the Agreement on Tariff Preferences took place in New Delhi, in dependencies of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This expressed the willingness of both countries to make rapid progress on this issue.

On March 10, 2020, the Agreement to Avoid Double Taxation and fight against tax evasion was signed in Santiago between the Minister of Finance Mr. Ignacio Briones, and the Ambassador of India to Chile, Mrs. Anita Nayar. This is the first agreement of its kind that India has with a country in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The second round of expansion of the Agreement on Tariff Preferences was scheduled for March 2020 in New Delhi but had to be postponed due to the Covid 19 emergency.  

On Friday 16 October 2020 was held the first meeting of the Chile-India High-Level Joint Committee, co-chaired by Ministers of Foreign Affairs Mr. Andrés Allamand and Mr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

This meeting represents a milestone in the bilateral relationship, as it is the first structured dialogue (to help periodically) at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries since the establishment of Diplomatic relations 71 years ago and represents a new level of understanding between both countries, with higher political coordination.

The ministers reviewed the state of the bilateral agenda, covering areas such as the deepening of the current trade agreement, cooperation in agricultural issues, defense matters, medicines, space issues, mining, renewable energy, transit of businessmen, culture and education, disaster management, cooperation in Antarctica and the opening of the Chilean Consulate General in Mumbai.

On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, Minister Andrés Allamand participated as a speaker in the ministerial panel, chaired by the Minister of Commerce and Industry of India, Mr. Piyush Goyal, which was held within the framework of the 26th edition of the India Partnership Summit, an annual event that is organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India.

At the end of February 2021, the deep-sea tugboat ATF-5 “Janequeo” arrived in Chile, acquired by the Chilean Navy from the Indian shipyard Larsen and Toubro, in Chennai. It is a multifunctional ship, which will allow increasing the rescue and salvage capacities of the Chilean Navy and will also provide support on the high seas to other ships of the National Navy.

Complementing the above, on March 25, 2021, a meeting was held for the first time between the Defense Ministries of both countries, which sought to explore the cooperation possibilities of the respective defense industries. On behalf of Chile, the delegation was led by the Head of the Technological Development Division of the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Óscar Bustos and representatives of FAMAE, ASMAR, and ENAER, and on the Indian side, the Secretary of the Department of Defense Industries of the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Raj Kumar, as well as companies of the defense sector.

On Thursday, April 8, and Friday, April 9, the Second Round of Negotiations for the second extension of the Agreement on Tariff Preferences between India and Chile was held virtually. This round was originally going to be held in 2020, but it had to be postponed due to covid 19 reasons.

The completion of this new round of negotiations reflects the interest of both parties in deepening their commercial relations and expanding both the universe of goods considered in the Agreement and deepening the tariff preferences already granted. Likewise, conversations were included regarding both investments and services, increasing business possibilities between both countries.

The working groups that met were those related to Trade in Goods (Market Access), Rules of Origin, Services, Technical Barriers to Trade, and Regulatory Frameworks.

On April 15, the Minister of RREE of Chile, Mr. Andrés Allamand, participated as keynote speaker in the panel “South Rising: The Decade for New America” held within the framework of the 2021 version of the Raisina Dialogue, an annual conference that brings together global leaders around the main challenges of the international agenda, organized by the Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India.

On April 19, 2021, the Chile - India Business Committee was launched, which will be co-chaired by Mr. Germán Ilabaca, for Chile and Mr. Prassana Sarambale, for India. The creation of this Committee represents another step in the deepening and extension of business relations and is expected to facilitate mutual knowledge and business culture between the business sectors of both countries.

On that same occasion, April 19, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the Sociedad de Fomento Fabril de Chile (SOFOFA), through which both entities formalized the bases for the joint work in order to facilitate commercial and business exchanges and in general favor a better business culture between both countries.