In the period from January to May 2020, Chile’s foreign trade totaled US$51.2 billion, a year-on-year decline of 14%. Over the first five months of 2020, total Chilean exports amounted to US$27.4 billion, equal to a 9% fall with respect to the same period last year (-US$2.6 billion). Imports, meanwhile, reached US$23.7 billion, representing a 20% drop compared to the same period in 2019.
Copper exports totaled US$12.3 billion, a 7% decline in comparison to January-May 2019 (-US$959 million). Shipments of copper represented 45% of Chilean exports as of May 2020.
Meanwhile, non-copper exports accounted for US$15.1 billion, representing a 10% drop compared to 2019 (-US$1.7 billion). The products that have experienced the sharpest falls are: cellulose (-US$462 million), salmon (-US$279 million), grapes (-US$229 million) and fresh cherries (-US$112 million).
International Economic Relations Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez stated that the foreign sales of many of these products, including grapes, apples, pears, bottled wine and salmon, have reached their lowest point since 2015.
“Some of these goods are highly dependent on the HORECA sector (hotels, restaurants and catering), an area of sales that has been seriously affected by the measures taken to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which have halted these activities in our main export markets, such as Asia, Europe and North America, all important consumers of our salmon and wine, among other things,” he said.
Nevertheless, there was an increase in the exports for a large number of goods, including iron, pork and poultry, iodine, gold, fishmeal, methanol, frozen fruit, shellfish, silver and cardboard, among other things.
It should be noted that food exports (excluding salmon) were 9% higher than those in the first five months of 2019 (+US$191 million).
With regard to imports during the first five months of 2020, these amounted to US$23.7 billion, equivalent to a 20% decrease compared to the same period in 2019. The most important decreases in imported goods were oil (-US$714 million), automobiles (-US$640 million), clothing (-US$ 374 million), cellular phones (-US$143 million) and televisions (-US$134 million).
Imported medications totaled US$401 million, equal to a 1.5% contraction compared to the first five months of 2019.
Engines, generators and electrical transformers (+US$243 million), sugar (+US$24 million), wheat and corn (+US$18 million) recorded an increase.