Super Mario sails back to Chile

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Tearful good-bye as Mario Artaza says adios to the Latin American business community after seven years in Hong Kong.

Photo: “Super Mario” will squeeze in one more Sevens cheering for Chile before he leaves.

Three years ago Harbour Times did an exit interview for Mario Artaza, the then Consul General of Chile in Hong Kong and Macau. Now after spending more than six years in Hong Kong promoting Chile first as a diplomat, then as a business champion, the winds in Senor Mario Artaza’s sails are blowing him back to Santiago.

The announcement of Mr Artaza’s return to Chile to rejoin the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs was made first by letter to members of The Chilean Chamber of Commerce and then a few hours later during a joint chamber luncheon on the Belt and Road Initiative co-hosted by the Chilean and Mexican Chambers of Commerce last Friday .

“Super Mario” arrived in Hong Kong in late 2010 as Consul General of Chile in Hong Kong and Macau. When his tenure ended in 2014 he seized the opportunity to take a sabbatical leave of two years from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to launch the Banco Security Hong Kong Representative Office – the first Chilean, and first Spanish language Latin American bank in Hong Kong.

Mr Artaza also worked closely with his successor, Consul General José Miguel González Serrano, and local Hong Kong business people to launch the Chile Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce and was its founding President. This zeal for bringing together government and business on one hand, and connecting Hong Kong and Chilean communities on the other, was a hallmark of his high-energy, high-impact style that saw not only the founding of The Chamber, but the signing of a Free Trade Agreement during his diplomatic tenure in Hong Kong.

“I am sure that the Chile Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce will continue to move forward its work agenda with each and everyone’s ideas, efforts and contribution. I am convinced that the Chile Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce presents unique strengths which are highly valued during these times of global uncertainty by Hong Kong and Chile’s business communities,” Mario notes in his letter of farewell. “Opportunities abound and can flourish!”

Yvonne Choi Ying-pik, Commissioner for Belt and Road, was the guest speaker at the joint chamber luncheon. The former Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development says that although neither the Belt nor the Road would categorically stretch out to the Americas, no love is lost across the Pacific, citing the “Pacific Alliance” held on 14 to 15 March at the seaside resort of Vina del Mar in Chile to chart the future of free trade in the Asia Pacific region. With Mr Artaza’s expertise in the Hong Kong and Chinese markets, he will find no difficulty in further strengthening the ties between the two countries.

Mario Artaza (right) with Belt and Road Commissioner Yvonne Choi and MexCham president Alejandro Milán.
Mario Artaza (right) with Belt and Road Commissioner Yvonne Choi and MexCham president Alejandro Milán.

“It is encouraging to know that Chile and other Latin American countries value China’s participation and are committed to open free trade. There is no doubt that the Belt and Road Initiative embraces Latin America,” Ms Choi said. “In fact, China keeps close ties with Latin America well before 2013. For example, Chile was the first Latin American nation to establish diplomatic ties with China in 1970 and the first to sign a free trade agreement with China in 2005 which will be upgraded as declared by the two countries in 2016.”

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