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1996 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with the President of Chile

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview in London with the President of Chile, Mr Eduardo Frei, on Wednesday 16th October 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

Can I firstly say how delighted I was to see the President here at Downing Street today. We have had the opportunity over the last two hours of some fairly wide-ranging discussions both on bilateral matters and also on international affairs. The relationship at the moment between our two countries is very good, very good politically and very good in terms of trade and investment. But the first thing we discussed was how to improve mutual trade and mutual investment and we set out a practical programme to achieve that. We both believe that there is tremendous scope for improvement and we are determined to achieve that improvement.

We also discussed a range of other bilateral matters and some international matters as well. I think rather than elaborate upon these, I will ask the President to say a few words and then we will answer any questions you may have. So in reiterating my very warm welcome to the President, I would like to invite him to say a few words to you.

PRESIDENT FREI:

[Interpretation inaudible].

QUESTION:

[Interpretation inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

We have to foster greater contact, that is the underlying point. We have put together a detailed programme about how that contact can be accelerated, we are looking at greater bilateral trade missions, greater bilateral investment missions, mutual exchanges of top businessmen, more exchanges of senior officials in government and a detailed examination within both governments of the opportunities, first for British investment in Chile and Chilean investment in Britain, but also the prospects of using Britain as an investment centre for the rest of Europe and Chile as an investment centre for the rest of Latin America. The President and I are both determined that this shall happen, so we have both said to our Ministers that we expect them to report to us what has happened and what has resulted from that so that this is not an initiative that fails to proceed. I think the scope is very great and I am determined that we take the opportunities that exist.

QUESTION:

[Interpretation inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

We will ratify it very speedily. Having said that, we British are a little disappointed in the agreement with Chile because it is not as far-reaching as we would have wished. We would have been more pleased if our European partners had agreed firstly a more far-reaching agreement, and secondly an agreement that came fully into effect more speedily. Nonetheless, we are pleased with the agreement that we have got, we just had hoped it would have been an even more wide reaching agreement, and we will work with the Government of Chile to try and improve a better agreement in the future.

QUESTION:

[Interpretation inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

Whisky is usually a source of pleasure in the United Kingdom, not of conflict. The President and I have discussed that, of course, as you would imagine and I know the President is looking at more proposals to deal with the domestic problem he has and also international obligations under the World Trade Organisation. So it was certainly a subject of discussion and the President may wish to add something to that.

PRESIDENT FREI:

[Interpretation inaudible].