SANTIAGO, CHILE -- PRESIDENT SEBASTIAN PIÑERA: Good morning. I would like to give the most warm in the world’s welcome to the Vice President of the United States, Mr. Joe Biden.
You know that he was elected senator when he was only 29 years of age (inaudible) the youngest senator in the history of the United States. He performed as a U.S. senator for more than 36 years, and now he’s the Vice President of the United States.
Welcome to Chile.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
PRESIDENT PIÑERA: We consider yourself and the country a very good and loyal friend of my country. So -- and I know that you have a very important voice to give and we are very pleased to have you here. Welcome to Chile once again, and I give you --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mr. President. I -- despite some of the crises that are going on around the world, the President and I agreed that it was important that I be here in Chile because this -- our commitment to this relationship is real. It’s deep, and you’ve deepened in your term, Mr. President.
I had a great meeting with President-elect Bachelet this morning, and I’m looking forward to meeting with you after this brief comments to the press here. And I also look forward to meeting the other leaders in the region from Colombia, Peru, Mexico and elsewhere. So it’s an opportunity for me meet others as well.
The President and I believe that the hemisphere, the Western Hemisphere, and particularly the Southern Hemisphere has -- offers enormous, enormous potential. It’s the destination of 40 percent of all of America’s exports. It’s home to a growing middle class, and it’s quickly becoming (inaudible) quickly becoming a world energy center.
And we, for the first time, Mr. President, at least in my career, talk about how to achieve a hemisphere that is secure, middle-class and free. We’ve never been able to look at it that way before. From Canada through -- down through Chile and everywhere in between, And nowhere in the region is that more -- potentially more apparent than in Chile. (Inaudible) the United States you mentioned historic close ties. And that's why -- it’s why I’m here. That's why my delegation is here.
Mr. President, our two countries have worked well together. We’ve made significant progress through your leadership in the TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation. During your term, Mr. President, our two countries also strengthened our people-to-people ties through the Visa Waiver Program. I remember first meeting you, talking about that. Chile is the only Latin America country in the program that allows visa-free travel between Chile and the United States.
And as far as my visit, I’m happy to say that we’re not going to wait until May the 1st. We want to move that program up to begin on March the 31st. Again, thank you for your -- all your efforts.
The United States, Mr. President, looks forward to working with your successor, President Bachelet, on these and many more issues. I personally look forward to tomorrow’s inauguration. I’ve heard it described as the perfect example of democratic transfer of power. Chile’s economic, democratic tradition teaches us all that pragmatism, not ideology, is the secret to success. It’s no coincidence that Chile has used democracy and the open market to create new opportunities for her citizens. And we continue to look forward to working with the government of Chile, and I continue to look forward to seeing you as well in person.
Thank you for your hospitality.CHILE - USA RELATIONS
Vice President Joe Biden is in Chile to attend the inauguration of President-Elect Michelle Bachelet. According to the White House, the Vice President’s visit will underscore the long-standing close ties between the United States and Chile, and highlight our cooperation in the following areas:
- Free Trade Agreement: The U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement continues to benefit both nations. Bilateral trade in goods grew to $28 billion in 2013, which makes Chile our 29th largest goods trading partner overall and our fourth largest export partner in the Americas. U.S. goods exports to Chile totaled $17.6 billion last year, representing an increase of 548 percent since the Agreement was signed in 2004.
- Trans-Pacific Partnership: The United States and Chile are two of the twelve participants negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will be a comprehensive, high-standard, next-generation trade agreement. Once concluded, the TPP will cover roughly 40 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). All of the participants stand to benefit from a successful and speedy conclusion of TPP negotiations.
- Multilateral Issues: The United States looks forward to consulting closely with Chile as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and member of the UN Human Rights Council. President Obama and President-Elect Bachelet launched our Trilateral Development Cooperation initiative in 2009, and we’ve worked together in countries as diverse as El Salvador, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic on matters as diverse as agriculture, assisting at-risk youth, and security cooperation.
- Visa Waiver Program: On February 28th, Chile was designated the 38th country to participate in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Chile’s designation is a testament to our strong relations and its participation will have a tremendous impact in creating even stronger people-to-people ties between our countries. It should also facilitate other potential initiatives to expedite trade and travel. During his visit, the Vice President announced the implementation would be moved up from May 1st to March 31st.
- 100,000 Strong in the Americas: During his March 2011 visit to Chile, President Obama launched the “100,000 Strong in the Americas” initiative to increase educational exchange across the Americas. Chile has already created three partnerships between U.S. and Chilean universities to increase student exchange. There are currently more than 3,000 U.S. students studying in Chile and more than 2,000 Chileans at American universities. In January, the Vice President launched the initiative’s #InvestintheFuture campaign to start an online conversation between students, governments, and business about international education.