Chile deepens cultural, trade ties with TT

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Angostura bitters is among the TT goods exported to Chile. –

Chile is one of the most advanced countries in South America socially, culturally, educationally and economically and one of the most deeply rooted in recent years in TT.

This, thanks to the promotion of several lines of work of the Chilean embassy in the Port of Spain, which seeks to promote co-operation between the two countries.

One of the main themes has been the promotion of Spanish as a second language.

Interviewed before his term as Chilean ambassador ended recently, Juan Anibal Barria said the embassy, through the Chilean co-operation agency, carried out several Spanish courses for public sector officials.

“It is a programme will continue, given the success it has had,” he said.

Around 70 people have participated in these courses. In addition, in this line, the Chilean embassy has gone to public and private schools to disseminate the Spanish language as a culture, geography and the culture of their country.

“We have been very impressed to see how high school students can express themselves in Spanish,” he said.

Barria said he has been impressed by how Trinidadians know classic Chilean writers like Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda among others.

Juan Anibal Barria, the former Chilean ambassador to TT. Photo by Grevic Alvarado –

“I’ve met new local literary talent, learning a lot about the history of TT from the books of Judy Raymond, former editor-in-chief of Newsday, who I like in her writing style,” he said.

He expressed his satisfaction for the growing coverage of Latin American news and Latin embassies in TT.

“More needs to be done. The effort should not only be made by Chile, but also by other Latin American countries because Spanish is a widely spoken language and even more so because TT is a geographically privileged country close to South America and the gateway to the Caribbean, being a bridge for the entire continent,” Barria said.

Another area of importance in matters of co-operation has been commercial. Barria said in recent years his country has worked to expand bilateral trade in a win-win relationship for both countries.

“The Chileans can know the good quality of local products, at the same time the Trinidadians know more about our country. There are already some emblematic Chilean products in some local supermarkets such as various fruits, salmon, among others. Also Chilean wine, one of the largest producers in the world, has a huge offer for Trinidadians,” he said.

Barria confirmed there is an ongoing negotiation process with three rounds of meetings already held for the expansion and growth of bilateral trade.

“Our idea is the relationship with TT goes beyond gas, on which Chile depends in a high percentage close to 80 per cent. But precisely these agreements seek to make the win-win effective by promoting trade,” he said.

Barria said for the first time in a decade a representative of the government entity designed to promote Chilean products and services for the Caribbean came to TT last year.

During that visit, she held meetings with local companies to learn about their products and explore new business opportunities.

This representative brought an interesting portfolio of proposals to do business with Trinidadian importers.

The TT and Chile naitonal flags. Photo by Roger Jacob –

Barria said among the Trinidadian products that are becoming known in his country, cocoa, Angostura bitters and gas stand out. He said a consultant from Export TT went to Chile to learn about the local market and present the export offer.

“There is a very interesting company of some very talented young people from TT who want to export white strawberries, called Cubr Root Farms. It is an idea that needs to be explored,” he said.

Also in 2022, the Chilean agency for food safety visited TT with meetings with the Ministry of Health and Agriculture and Carpha to learn about and offer experience in the field of the sanitary quality of products.

“It is a new and very important topic for food safety and it has generated a lot of interest. Many of the initiatives such as fire rescue courses, coastal protection among others were affected by the covid19 pandemic, however, with the reopening, new practices and experiences are being seen to learn from each other,” he said.

In addition, Chile is generating streams of greater knowledge on good practises in public policy.

“Chile does not believe that it is a teacher, but rather a student with some areas in which it has made more progress, such as digital transformation, renewable energy, education, and can be of support for TT. We are promoting technical co-operation in other sectors, respecting the idiosyncrasy and seeking to learn about good TT practises in new areas such as energy, intellectual property, among others,” he said.

Barria, who served in TT for four yours, felt sure that the person appointed by his government to replace him will come with the same ideas and purposes to maintain the excellent relations between Chile and TT.

Barria believes TT can continue to grow in terms of tourism.

“I would like to see how Chileans come to TT and the Trinidadians go to Chile and share their cultures, the joy of its people, its artists and above all the carnival is one of the best in the Caribbean,” he said.

“We want to promote the steelpan in Chile with the help of the state gas company and the UTT music school,” he said.

As a message, Barria told TT nationals to believe more in their potential.

“TT is a country of very talented people with very important business capacity, with very good quality of its products. The work that local authorities such as ministers and (Foreign Affairs Minister) Dr Amery Browne are doing in promoting TT to the world is impressive.”

Barria was Chile’s ambassador to various countries and after 40 years as a diplomat, he returned to his country to dedicate himself to his family, in Punta Arenas, the windy city near Antarctica.