Chile assures UK of trade deal ‘moment Brexit takes place’

U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Chilean foreign minister Roberto Ampuero in Santiago de Chile.

SANTIAGO – British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson continued his visit to Chile Wednesday on the final leg of his tour of Latin America, which has already seen him travel to Peru and Argentina.

Chile’s Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero has assured Boris Johnson that an “advantageous” trade deal between his country and the United Kingdom can come into effect “the moment Brexit takes place”.

Speaking alongside Mr. Johnson at a press conference in the Chilean ministry of foreign affairs, Mr. Ampuero said that a post-Brexit trade deal was “a situation where we all should be benefiting”.

He added: “For us, it is important that this agreement we are developing and promoting with the United Kingdom will work in such a way and be designed to the most minimal detail so as not to have a vacuum, a pause, a gap, but to move on once Brexit is concluded to this free-trade relationship, advantageous for both parties, beginning the moment that Brexit takes place.”

Ampuero’s comments came after talks in Santiago on the last day of Mr. Johnson’s five-day tour of Latin America.

The 53-year-old became first British foreign secretary to visit Argentina in past 25 years.

Johnson will hold talks with the President Sebastian Piñera to discuss further collaboration on international security, defense, and post-Brexit trade opportunities.

Speaking ahead of his visit to Chile Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “I am delighted to be visiting Chile as part of my tour of Latin America and to have the opportunity to further strengthen our historic relationship. It is fitting my visit comes on the 200th anniversary of the Chilean Navy´s foundation by British Admiral Lord Cochrane.

“The UK and Chile already have strong trading links between our countries and with the UK leaving the European Union, I want both nations to grasp this opportunity and to deliver a real boost to British-Chilean trade links in the years ahead.”

Chile has long been a beacon of free trade in the region, and already enjoys a deal with the European Union which London hopes can be rolled over and enhanced after withdrawal.

During his visit to Santiago, Mr Johnson will join the Chilean Minister of Education Gerardo Varela and meet Chilean students where he will launch a project led by the British Council aiming to empower girls through digital literacy and computer coding. The project entitled ‘Girl Power Codefest Americas’ will enhance digital literacy and coding skills among students, and specifically girls, in Chile, Colombia and Peru, underlining the Foreign Secretary’s commitment to improving education for girls across the world – a key personal priority.

He will join the Chilean Minister for Economy at the opening of the Bupa Santiago Hospital, which will officially open next month. British company Bupa is the biggest investor in the healthcare sector in Chile and the 400 hundred-bed hospital in Santiago is Bupa’s biggest healthcare clinic worldwide.

The Foreign Secretary will also attend an event with a select group of Chilean business people and senior political figures, organized by the Chilean Council for International Relations.