Pennsylvania is already the country's fifth-largest U.S. trading partner
April 16, 2013 4:00 AM
Presidencia de la Rep?blica de Chile
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, left, meets with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera during a trade mission visit to Santiago on Monday.
By Karen Langley Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SANTIAGO, Chile -- In a meeting Monday at the presidential palace, Gov. Tom Corbett and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera discussed creating a formal agreement to facilitate exchanges between Pennsylvania and Chile.
"If he and I could do it without the lawyers, it would be done already," Mr. Corbett said afterward. "As they have a relationship now with California and Massachusetts, he and I would both like to have one with Pennsylvania."
A memorandum of understanding would promote cooperation in areas such as education, energy, mining, agriculture and science and technology, said Constanza Cea Sanchez, a spokeswoman for Mr. Pinera.
The men also discussed the possibility of Mr. Pinera visiting Pennsylvania -- perhaps to see how natural gas is produced -- when he travels to the United States in June, Mr. Corbett said.
As the Chilean economy continues to grow, the country is seeking energy sources more reliable and plentiful than its hydroelectric and mostly imported fossil fuels. Government officials and businessmen here have told the trade delegation of their interest in Pennsylvania's natural gas.
The meeting in the Palacio de La Moneda, which included officials from both administrations, lasted longer than the Pennsylvania delegation anticipated.
"For him to give an hour of his time indicates to me they are open, serious and engaged with Pennsylvania," said Leo Holt, president of Holt Logistics Corp., which handles fresh fruit imported from Chile at the Port of Philadelphia. Mr. Holt, whose father began traveling on business to Chile in 1968, participated in the meeting.
"I think the cogs of these two wheels have just meshed as a result of the acquaintances we made," he said. "And we are ready to shift into a higher gear as a result."
Pennsylvania is Chile's fifth-largest trading partner in the United States. In 2010, 43 percent of Chile's fruit exports to the United States entered the country through the Port of Philadelphia, Ms. Cea said.
Mr. Pinera, a wealthy businessman who is considered politically center-right, won election in 2010 and is barred by the constitution from seeking a consecutive four-year term. The previous president, Michelle Bachelet, recently returned from a position at the United Nations to launch a bid for a second term.