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Cablegate: Chile-California Partnership Celebrates Achievements, Looks

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TAGS: PREL ECON EINV ENRG EAGR OEXC CI
SUBJECT: CHILE-CALIFORNIA PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATES ACHIEVEMENTS, LOOKS
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1. (U) SUMMARY: A California delegation traveled to Chile
September 27-29 to recognize the achievements of the
Chile-California Partnership and explore more opportunities for
engagement. Led by Secretaries of State Dale Bonner and Mike
Chrisman, the delegation met with Chilean counterparts to discuss
energy, agriculture, and education. The California and Los Angeles
Chambers of Commerce signed an MOU with the American Chamber of
Commerce Chile to promote increased trade and investment. Many
events attracted high-level participation, including Foreign
Minister Fernandez's attendance at a reception hosted by the
Ambassador on September 28. END SUMMARY.

Chile-California: Shared History, Common Interests

--------------------------------------------- -----

2. President Bachelet and California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger formalized the Chile-California Partnership in June
2008. The Partnership features 11 memoranda of
understanding/framework agreements on human capital, promoting
innovation, energy, environment, agriculture and education. Chile
and California implemented a similar program in the 1960s that
resulted in the education of hundreds of Chilean students in
California. In fact, the "Davis Boys," Chilean graduates of UC
Davis, are widely recognized for making a significant impact on
Chile's agricultural practices.

3. Under the current Chile-California Partnership, action plans
have been developed in viticulture, seed research, environmental
protection, and clean energy. Seminars have been held on topics
such as solar power, biotechnology, and organic agriculture. The
Partnership includes universities, the private sector, the
California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), and Chile's
National Commission for the Environment (CONAMA).

4. A California delegation traveled to Chile September 27-29 to
review the Partnership and participate in the American
Competitiveness Forum (ACF). Dale Bonner, Secretary of Business,
Transportation, and Housing, and Mike Chrisman, Secretary for
Natural Resources, led the delegation, which also included
representatives from the CalEPA and the California and Los Angeles
Chambers of Commerce.

5. The visit provided an opportunity to highlight the
Chile-California achievements of the past year and explore more
opportunities for engagement. Many Chile-California events
attracted high-level participation. The delegation's visit was
kicked off by an opening dinner hosted by Acting Foreign Minister
Alberto Van Klaveren and attended by Chilean Ambassador to the U.S.
Jose Goni. The reception hosted by the Ambassador on September 28
included Foreign Minister Fernandez and Ambassador Goni, as well as
a wide range of official, academic, NGO, and business contacts,
which is indicative of the breadth of cooperation under the
Chile-California Partnership.

Energy, Agriculture: Key Areas of Cooperation

---------------------------------------------

6. Renewable energy is a key component of the partnership.
During a meeting with Chile's Economic Development Agency (CORFO)
and Renewable Energy Center (REC), delegates addressed the
challenges of integrating renewable energy projects into the power
grid, as well as financing mechanisms for transmission lines.
Rodrigo Garcia from CORFO/REC explained the importance of small
hydroelectric projects (run-of-river) and said Chile is exploring
biofuels, especially from algae. Chile's Clean Production Council
requested more technical cooperation and exchanges with companies
in California. Ricardo Martinez from the CalEPA suggested that
this could be done under an existing agreement between the
California EPA and Chile's Environmental Commission (CONAMA).

7. Members of the California delegation also met with
representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture. Secretary
Chrisman noted that water management and irrigation were issues
where California can assist Chile. Officials encouraged UC Davis
to pursue joint research centers and activities with Universidad de
Chile and Universidad de Concepcion.


Expanding Education Exchanges

-----------------------------

8. Chile-California participants are pleased with the Partnership's
education components. UC Davis representatives reported that
Chilean applications for graduate study at UC Davis have tripled
from 10 to 30 since the launching of the Chile-California
Partnership. Becas Chile, the government's higher education
scholarship program, and the Council of Rectors expressed interest
in expanding education exchanges to include joint research
projects, joint degrees, and greater collaboration in areas such as
engineering, education, and science. Participants suggested the
use of websites to help lesser-known California universities
promote themselves in Chile and encourage English language training
for Chilean students. Ricardo Martinez of the CalEPA and Secretary
Chrisman both offered to host Chilean students at their respective
organizations for internships.

Chambers of Commerce Sign MOU

-----------------------------

10. On September 29, the California and Los Angeles Chambers of
Commerce signed an MOU with the American Chamber of Commerce Chile.
The MOU calls for cooperation between the Chambers to promote trade
and investment between California and Chile. Carlos Valderamma,
Senior Vice President of Global Initiatives for the L.A. Chamber,
said this was the first ever MOU signed by both Chambers with an
international Chamber of Commerce.

11. COMMENT: The Chile-California Partnership is a unique model
that leverages geographic and economic similarities between Chile
and California to address shared challenges, including energy, the
environment, and innovation. The Partnership's breadth is both a
strength, since it promotes cooperation across a large range of
issues, and weakness, because the Partnership is diffuse. Periodic
visits such as this one help energize the Partnership by reviewing
the existing cooperation and promoting discussions on additional
areas of engagement. Chile's enthusiasm for the partnership was on
full display during the visit, and it has committed resources to
insure the partnership will continue to deliver benefits to both
parties. END COMMENT.
SIMONS

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