We started off day four of our International Study Tour learning about the Chilean economy at Scotiabank. Chile has the fifth largest economy in Latin America and has seen significant growth in their economy over the last 30 years. The Canadian Dollar and the Chilean Peso react to the world economy in a similar fashion; when one appreciates the other tends to appreciate as well. While the economy is strong, only 3.3 million Chileans use the banking system - and the country has a population of over 17 million.
The group then visited the Sociedad Nacional de Agricultura (National Society of Agriculture), which was established in 1838. The Sociedad attributes four factors to the success of Chilean agriculture: the abundance of free trade agreements (over 58 and counting), the country's Mediterranean climate, the fact that the country is free of pests and disease and that the growing season is the opposite of North America. Chilean agriculture faces similar challenges to those in Canada - attracting young people to the industry, access to infrastructure (transportation and irrigation), training for farmers, and simplifying reporting and regulations for the industry.
After a traditional Chilean lunch of chacarero (beef, green beans and tomato sandwich), we had the opportunity to visit Hogar de Cristo, a centre for adults in Santiago. With the help of donations, this group home provides accommodations, support and services to 100 adults. The staff and volunteers provide exceptional care and compassion for the welfare of those who face the challenges of substance abuse, alcohol dependency and domestic violence. A smile, a handshake and even sharing some ice cream brought a lot of joy to the residents.
We wrapped up the day with a visit to the Los Domnicos market place, a hub for local Chilean artisans. From jewellery to clothing to crafts, this marketplace had a little something for everyone. Be sure to watch for an authentic Chilean piece at the AALP Dream Auction in February 2016.