On 1 March, British Ambassador Louise de Susa took over the legacy in Santiago. He entered the Diplomatic Service in 1991, and served as ambassador to Tunisia between 2016 and 2020 before arriving in Chile. He has also served in missions in Nairobi, Maputo and Brasilia. In addition, he worked as head of human affairs in the Department of Rights and Democracy in the British Chancellory. In his first interview since arriving in Chile, de Susa spoke with La Tercera about the bilateral relationship between London and Santiago and the British vaccination program against the Covid-19.
What are the UK’s priorities in its relations with Chile?
This is a really exciting time when we have become an ambassador here, now that the UK has left the European Union and we have negotiated a continuation free trade agreement with Chile, we have our business investment between the UK and Chile There is a new opportunity to expand the relationship, which should be beneficial for both parties. Second, the UK and Chile are very close partners in the fight against climate change. Chile is headed by COP25 and the United Kingdom is headed by COP26, so this is a big priority for us bilaterally and tackling climate change is the number one priority of the UK’s foreign policy. Both the United Kingdom and Chile are moving towards the Indo-Pacific region, with the greatest growth opportunities in the coming years.
Apart from climate change, what are the other areas that you would like to strengthen?
The second major problem that we have worldwide is the impact of the Kovid-19 epidemic, where Chile has shown its leadership in terms of the vaccine program and we are pleased that both the United Kingdom and Chile have effective vaccination programs. But we also believe that there is much to ensure that vaccines and treatments are equally available around the world. For example, the United Kingdom has donated £ 1,300 million sterling (US $ 1,818 million) to various initiatives to promote equal access to vaccine treatments. And we, along with Chile, are trying to secure a new pandemic treaty with the WHO, which believes that it can help us ensure that the world is better prepared next time.
You mentioned the British vaccination program, what is the key to success?
As in the case of Chile, our government did a good job of anticipating and we invested in anticipated and different types of potential vaccines before anyone knew they would work. So we ended up with a good selection of vaccines that we could apply and have happily done incredible work to bring the most innovative and successful products in the world over the last year. And we also invested millions of pounds of UK government money in the development of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, which it believes can make a real contribution to solving the crisis worldwide, as AstraZeneca is produced at a cost.
There has been much controversy regarding AstraZeneca, how do you rate it?
I think it is important to say that recognized regulators around the world, including WHO, have made it clear that this is a good, safe vaccine. And this is a very important part of the solution to the problem. The second thing is that the world has never tried to produce and deploy vaccines at this speed and at this scale. And it is no surprise that not only AstraZeneca, but also other vaccines, have problems. So I think we are learning a lot. And AstraZeneca is to be commended for the approach taken in the context of trying to provide cost-effective, world-effective solutions.
After a review of integrated security, defense, development and foreign policy, the UK now looks at the Indo-Pacific. Are they leaving Europe behind after Brexit?
In the Integrated Review, we reaffirm our role as Euro-Atlantic power and our occupation, that we are a key member of NATO. We remain European and our European allies and allies will continue to be our allies and allies, nothing has changed. What we are doing with Integrated Review is recognizing that the world is changing, it is becoming more competitive. We are facing new and innovative threats, both in ordinary space and cyberspace. However, we should consider Indo-Pacific to be the region of the world, which has the greatest potential. We now have freedom after leaving the European Union to negotiate trade agreements. That is why we have made every intention to join TPP 11. We also need to develop relationships with like-minded partners who share our values and priorities in the Indo-Pacific region.
What are Britain’s priorities now that it has left the European Union?
The UK wants to act as a reliable partner and partner on the world stage, who share our values. As we have argued with the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in London this week, where we affirm the intention to protect and promote democratic values, human rights and the rule of law. We want to be a leader in greater free trade and better quality, which is why we are interested in TPP11, a high-quality agreement that raises standards among its members.
What is the position of London in a second independence referendum in Scotland?
I have heard the Chief Minister now say that the priority is actually economic recovery from the epidemic. It is therefore quite clear that this is not the time to talk about an independence referendum. It is time to ensure that the whole of Britain is overcome by the epidemic. Therefore the Premier will explicitly defend and demonstrate the benefits of the Union, which is historically the most successful political and economic union in the world.