Leaders Converge at 16th Annual Latin American Cities Conference in Santiago

The event - supported by the Santiago Center - brought together distinguished leaders from the public and private sectors in Chile and the region.

August 14, 2023

Four ministers, the US Ambassador to Chile, the CEO of Falabella, and a representative from Google were among the presenters at the 16th annual Latin American Cities Conference held in Santiago by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) and the Chilean Ministry of Finance, with the support of Columbia Global Centers | Santiago as well as other collaborating organizations.

The event, which took place on Wednesday, August 9th, at the Ritz Carlton hotel, brought together distinguished leaders from both the public and private sectors in Chile and the region to discuss Chile's economic outlook, it’s agenda for sustainable growth, and the country's future from an investment perspective, all within the context of the 200-year bilateral relationship between Chile and the United States. Susan Segal, CEO and president of AS/COA, welcomed the gathering by highlighting the strength of Chilean institutions and expressed that there is significant interest in the United States to invest in the country, particularly in lithium, renewable energies, and green hydrogen.

Next, it was the turn of Minister of Finance Mario Marcel and Minister of Public Works Jessica López. Marcel addressed how the Chilean economy has adapted to the complex post-COVID scenario, how foreign markets are observing the national economy, and the challenges of promoting sustainable economic development. López delved into the significant challenges that the country faces regarding critical infrastructure and the importance of public-private collaboration to address them.

The first panel, “Chile’s Investment Opportunities,” was moderated by Karla Flores, Executive Director of InvestChile. It featured Ignacio Mehech, Vice President of External Affairs LATAM and Country Manager Chile at Albemarle Corporation; José Arosa, CEO of Prime Energia; and Soledad Jeria, Country Manager Chile of mining company Rio Tinto.

Following the panel, Minister of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation Aisén Etcheverry discussed the relevance of scientific and technological knowledge for economic development: "If we look to the future and truly aim to project an economic development based on added value, we cannot disconnect ourselves from scientific and technological knowledge," she stated. Etcheverry noted that today there are over 18,000 individuals with PhD’s in Chile, who are not only working in academia but also in the industry, effecting cultural shifts that are significant for the development of this sector. She also addressed the need to regulate the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence, underlining AI's potential to enhance people's quality of life, and highlighted Chile's ongoing artificial intelligence policy, which has secured an investment of over 90 billion pesos.

The second panel, “New Technologies and Economic Development,” featured Moderator Rosario Navarro, president of SOFOFA, and engaged Gastón Bottazzini, CEO of Falabella; Claudina García, Vice President of Public Affairs, Sustainability, and Communications at American Tower; Max Silva, CEO Chile of NotCo; and Eleonora Rabinovich, Head of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Spanish Speaking LatAm at Google.

The day concluded with Segal moderating a conversation on the 200-year bilateral relationship between the US and Chile. Minister of Foreign Affairs Alberto Van Klaveren and US Ambassador to Chile Bernadette Meehan reviewed the diplomatic history between the two countries, recalling crucial events across these 200 years. They discussed the establishment of the Fulbright Commission for educational exchange, the signing of the Free Trade Agreement, the development of the Chile-California plan, and Chile's inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows Chilean citizens up to 90 days of visa-free entry to the United States for tourism and/or business purposes.

Videos of all presentations are available here.