GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Chile and the Gulf: Identifying channels of cooperation
Paper Proposal Text :
Chile’s relations with the Gulf region are still at an incipient stage. Since the mid-2000s, however, there have been signs of growing mutual interest. Chile’s foreign policy has focused especially on developing economic links with the smaller Arab monarchies (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates). In 2006, the Chilean Export Promotion Bureau (ProChile) established an office in Dubai to conduct market research and organize trade missions. In 2009 and 2010, Chile and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) opened respective embassies. Meanwhile, high-ranking officials from Chile and Gulf countries have visited their counterparts: in 2009, Michelle Bachelet attended the 2nd Arab-South American Summit (ASPA) in Doha. In 2010, the Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was awarded the “City Key” of Santiago, Chile’s capital, in recognition of his role in boosting Kuwaiti-Chilean relations. Since 2009, Chile and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) are negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA). In 2010, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to discuss bilateral relations and revive talks on the FTA.
Greater cooperation could be beneficial for both sides. Chile, a small country with a strongly export-oriented economy, seeks to diversify its diplomatic and commercial ties in order to gain autonomy. Countries from the GCC are eager to secure their food supplies. As some observers have noted, food products represent the greatest growth opportunity for Chile’s export sector in coming years. On the multilateral level, Chile and Gulf countries share some views on global governance. Chile, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar and the UAE are part of the Global Governance Group (3G), an informal coalition of 27 countries formed as a means for small and medium-sized UN member states to channel their views into the G20 process. They also converge on some key issues, as the need to establish a Palestinian state. Increasing cooperation on these topics could help Chile and Gulf countries make their voice better heard on the world scene.
Our paper aims to analyze both the opportunities and the political/structural obstacles to this emerging South-South relationship, and to highlight the role of the Chilean-Arab Diaspora in strengthening the ties between Chile and Gulf countries. In Chile, prominent figures of Arab origin and Diaspora organizations have played an active role in trying to bridge the gap between Chile and the Arab World. The Chilean Arab Business Council (ChileArab), an organization created in 2007 by a group of business leaders, have built narrow ties with the Young Arab Leaders (YAL), a development platform for business, public sector and civil society leaders, created in 2004 under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The chief executive of ChileArab, Jorge Daccarett Bahna, is also the Secretary of the Gulf Latin America Leaders Council (GLCC), an economic development advisory organization founded in 2009. Other examples include Jean-Paul Tarud, the actual Chilean Ambassador in Dubai, and Pablo Zalaquett, the mayor or Santiago. We will show how Diaspora’s interests in fostering Chile-Arab relations can constitute a leverage to overcome some of the political and cultural obstacles that impede the intensification of the process.
We are using for this research primary data, official documents produced by the Chilean Foreign Ministry - including the DIRECON (General Directorate of International Economic Affairs) and ProChile -, semi-structured interviews with high officials and key Chilean-Arab figures, press articles and secondary sources.