Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to welcome you, to this reception, for students and faculty, of the CASS Business School of City University, together with representatives of the local business community. Thank you for coming along this evening.
I am delighted that you have made Chile a priority for your visit. Business relations with Chile, and education relations with Chile, are very important. And all of you are ambassadors to build those relations. And Chile is a great place in which to do business.
In July 2014, a group of Executive MBAs enjoyed a very successful International Consulting Week in Santiago, working in situ, with Chilean and Latin American organisations. The experience was so positive that CASS MBA management decided that it was worth repeating. As a result, we now have you here on a weeklong visit to work with Chilean businesses, and your work will result in the submission of recommendations and formal reports for assessment in London. The international experience and exposure to foreign business culture is a great benefit for any student, and even more so for you yourselves, as future business managers who will work in a global labour market.
British links with Chile in the area of education have always been strong but the percentage of Chilean students undertaking further education has doubled in the last decade, and technical and vocational training has also been in high demand. Chilean universities are actively seeking collaboration in research, and teacher and student exchange with their British counterparts. And, the UK has been the number one global destination for the last three years for Chileans studying overseas Masters and PhD courses under the Becas Chile programme.
Another area in which the educational links between the UK and Chile are evident is the Chevening scholarship programme. Since it was first established in 1983, more than 200 scholars have studied in British universities, many of them subsequently becoming political, commercial and social leaders.
Prime Minister, David Cameron, yesterday made a very important speech, about ‘Tackling Corruption’. He highlighted that the importance of democracy, rule of law, and freedom of speech, are each important in their own right, but also are keys to economic success. They underpin innovation, creativity and choice. And the important elements of a rules based world order are a commitment to transparency and tackling corruption. Important themes for all of us, for our work here in Chile, in the UK, and elsewhere in the world.
Through your studies, each of the students here has the potential to reach key positions of responsibility in business, government, academia, and other sectors, in a global marketplace. How you bring personal integrity and ethical practices to those roles, tackle issues of corruption, and draw on principles of democracy, rule of law and freedom of speech, is something to think about for each of you and your organisations.
We recently celebrated the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. The foundation of justice. The foundation of liberty. The foundation of democracy. Today, many of the values established in British society of freedoms, of strong institutions, transparency, ethical standards, and, the rule of law and accountability, stem from the framework it created.
We also recently celebrated another anniversary – 20 years of the Nolan principles. These are the seven principles that guide everyone in public life in the UK: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.’ They play into business life too. Good standards. Good principles. Worth thinking about as you develop your careers.
Chile has a great deal to offer for business and trade with the UK. Chile is a liberal, open market economy with strong macroeconomic stability, and low foreign debt. It is the fifth largest economy in South America and boasts the highest GDP per capita in the region. Chile’s GDP grew 1.9% in 2014 and is expected to grow around 2.5% in 2015. Medium term growth will be driven by natural resources (particularly copper), domestic consumption growth, strong investment prospects and an open economy. It’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ world ranking is 41 out of 183 countries. It is only one of two countries in the region (the other being Mexico) with the coveted “A” credit rating.
The mining sector, the country’s engine, faces challenges with the drop of the copper price, and demands for energy and water, but offers major opportunities for British companies, not just in heavy machinery, but in technology and innovation, supply chain management, and financial and legal services. Retail and healthcare are also sectors of growth, together with infrastructure. So lots of business opportunities and lots of opportunities for you in hands on business management.
I wish you a successful and productive stay in Chile, and success in your future studies in the UK.