Last updated in October 2018
Since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990, bilateral relations have expanded on all fronts. Bilateral political dialogue is close and founded on mutual trust. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Santiago on 26 and 27 January 2013 resulted, among other things, in increased cooperation on commodity issues. The visit to Germany by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on 27 and 28 October 2014 and the visit to Chile by Germany’s then Federal President Joachim Gauck from 11 to 14 July 2016 reaffirmed and strengthened cooperation between the two countries.
Chile has close and long-standing ties with Germany. The achievements of German immigrants in the south of the country (from 1850 onwards) and the commitment of German scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs and experts in all fields have played a key part in the country’s development and are still held in high regard today. German culture and the German language still have a presence in Chile, especially in the south of the country.
Multilaterally, the two countries have many shared interests, on which there is close coordination between the two Governments, for example on global issues such as renewable energy, environmental protection, climate change, arms control and nuclear non-proliferation, human rights and the reform and strengthening of the United Nations.
Germany and Chile have enjoyed good and intensive economic relations for many years.
Germany continues to be Chile’s most important trading partner in the European Union, with bilateral trade reaching 3,5 billion US dollars in 2017. Germany’s main exports to Chile are aircraft, ships, rail vehicles and cars, plant and mechanical engineering products (especially for mining), electricity generation and distribution equipment, electrical goods, medical and photographic equipment, measurement and control technology, chemical products and non-precious metal goods.
Copper and related products remain Chile’s main exports to Germany. Germany also imports from Chile sizeable quantities of fruit, preserved foods and juices, wine, fish and processed fish products, meat and animal-derived foods, as well as cellulose, wood and chemical products.
The German-Chilean Forum for Mining and Mineral Resources was established in 2013. The institutionalisation and intensification of cooperation is being promoted by the Competence Centre for Mining and Mineral Resources at the German-Chilean Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the strategic partnership between the chamber and the research section of Chile’s National Mining Society. In addition, a cooperative project on sustainable mining by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the German-Chilean Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chilean partners is designed to create new opportunities for technology partnerships between German and Chilean companies.
German direct investment in Chile
German direct investment in Chile – worth an aggregate 1.46 billion US dollars – is relatively modest, accounting for 1.2 percent of total foreign investment in the country. German companies have invested mainly in technology sectors and the processing of domestic raw materials, but increasingly in the property sector, too. The largest German investment comes from Kali & Salz. Other major sources of investment include Südzucker, Grünenthal, real estate funds, joint ventures in the industrial sector (Ferrostaal, Linde, Hochtief, etc.), and Siemens and WPD in the energy sector. In addition, numerous minor investments have been made by small and medium-sized companies.
Science and technology
Cooperation between Germany and Chile in science and technology has steadily intensified in recent years. An updated comprehensive framework agreement on bilateral cooperation in science and technology has been in force since 2013.
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which has had a presence in Chile with the Fraunhofer Center for Systems Biotechnology since 2011 and with Fraunhofer Solar since 2014, continues to expand its successful research partnerships in the country.
The Max Planck Society (MPG) has succeeded in consolidating its cooperation with Chile. In 2013, the MPG reached an agreement with the Chilean side to support German-Chilean research projects (so-called tandem projects). In addition, with a neuroscience centre at the University of Valparaíso, the foundation stone was also laid for a permanent Max Planck Research Group in Chile.
The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, in particular the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Germany’s National Metrology Institute (PTB) remain active in Chile. The Helmholtz Association funds German-Chilean research projects in cooperation with Chile's National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research. In cooperation with the Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy (BKG), the Alfred Wegener Institute and Chilean partners, the DLR is continuing to expand its research activity in the Antarctic with the German Antarctic Receiving Station (GARS) O’Higgins. In addition, with the support of the German Government it is busy preparing cooperation with Chile on the development of a Multi-Hazard Early Warning System.
The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), which is based in Garching near Munich, has an office in Santiago and operates some of the world’s largest observatories in Chile.
Chile is a member of the OECD and is one of the upper middle income countries since 2017. It is positioning itself as a “donor nation”. Chile is being supported in these efforts by the German Government. As part of these triangular cooperation arrangements, the Chilean partner organisation Agencia Chilena de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AGCID) is, with the help of German consultants, providing third countries from the region with ideas and experience based on its own bilateral technical cooperation. Triangular cooperation initiatives are currently underway with El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency have been a focus of bilateral economic cooperation since 2004. Traditional bilateral development cooperation with Chile was terminated in 2011. Since 2008, the Federal Environment Ministry has been supporting the implementation of climate-relevant renewable energy projects through its International Climate Initiative (IKI) and the German Climate Technology Initiative (DKTI). As part of its International Climate Initiative (IKI), the German Government is currently supporting a project on energy efficiency and cogeneration of heat and power in public hospitals, a project to develop an expansion strategy for grid-bound renewable energy and a solar energy project.
Other key topics of bilateral economic cooperation with Chile include vocational training and sustainable mining.
Culture and education
Bilateral cultural relations are close and wide-ranging. They centre on the German language, academic contacts between higher education and research institutions, the programme work of the Goethe-Institut and support for the currently 26 schools in Chile participating in the Federal Foreign Office’s Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH).
These schools score highly in the informal school ranking compiled in connection with Chile’s annual nationwide university-entrance examination (PSU). The five German schools in Chile (one each in Valdivia, Valparaíso and Concepción and two in Santiago) are regularly certified by a team of federal and state inspectors visiting from Germany and hold the title of Excellent German School Abroad awarded by the German Federal President on account of their outstanding results. The German School in Santiago has offered the German International Abitur examination (DIAP) since 2012. The four other German schools abroad have strengthened their German profile by introducing the mixed-language International Baccalaureate (IB). The other German-funded schools teach German as a supplementary subject or foreign language and offer German Language Certificate examinations or the Goethe Institute’s German language examinations. There are currently more than 24,000 students learning German as a foreign language at schools in Chile.
German and Chilean universities and research institutes cooperate directly and successfully. There is a close-knit network of contacts and institutional arrangements between them, with the result that the number of cooperation projects has since risen to over 260. In 2017, there were almost 1.000 Chilean students studying at German universities. This means that, in relation to the size of its population, no other country in Latin America sends as many students to Germany as Chile.
The Heidelberg Centre for Latin America (HCLA), which was set up in Chile in 2001, was officially opened in Santiago de Chile on 9 April 2002 as a University of Heidelberg postgraduate and continuing education centre. The HCLA receives financial support from the federal state of Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, the University of Heidelberg and the DAAD. Since 2010, it has also received, via the DAAD, funding from the Federal Foreign Office’s Research and Academic Relations Initiative. In cooperation with the Universidad de Chile and the Pontificia Universidad Católica, the Heidelberg Centre has, since 2010, offered postgraduate studies in Medical Physics, Medical Computer Science, Geosciences and Astronomy.
The Goethe-Institut in Santiago, whose successful work in Chile stretches back almost 70 years, is one of the most prominent cultural centres in Chile’s capital and is engaged in successful cooperation with other European cultural institutions.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.