LONDON – I was recently in beautiful Chile for a Futures Congress, and I had a chance to travel south to the very tip of Latin America. I also recently made a BBC radio documentary called “Fixing Globalization,” in which I crisscrossed the United Kingdom in search of ideas for improving certain aspects of it and discussed topical issues with well-known experts. In both cases, I saw things that convinced me that it is past time for someone to come to globalization’s defense.
Chile today is Latin America’s richest country, with per capita GDP of around $23,000 – similar to that of Central European countries. This is quite an achievement for a country that depends so heavily on copper production, and it sets Chile apart from many of its neighbors. Like many other countries, Chile is facing economic challenges, and its growth rate leaves something to be desired; but it also has many promising opportunities beyond its borders.
For example, when I led a review on antimicrobial resistance, I learned that copper has powerful antibacterial properties and is an ideal material for use in health-care facilities where bacteria often spread. This means that copper producers such as Chile, Australia, and Canada can improve global health – and boost exports – by introducing affordable copper infrastructure into hospitals and other clinical settings around the world.
Chile is also a storehouse of knowledge for managing earthquakes and tsunamis. While I was there, I visited La Serena, which in 2015 experienced the sixth-strongest earthquake ever recorded. But the ensuing tsunami killed only 11 people, though it surely would have killed far more in many other places. Chilean officials’ advanced preparation and rapid response seems to have made the difference. With so much institutional experience, Chile can be a valuable resource for other countries threatened by seismic events.