November 10, 2020
Foreign Trade

Chilean trade totals US$104 billion in 2020 and exports rise for the fourth time this year

Chilean trade totals US$104 billion in 2020 and exports rise for the fourth time this year
International Economic Relations Undersecretary said, “the figures in October reflect the improved production prospects of some of our major trading partners, such as China, Brazil and South Korea, which lead the growth in our shipments this month.”

Over the first 10 months of this year, Chilean trade totaled US$104 billion, 10% lower than that for the same period in 2019 due to a decrease in imports (-US$11 billion) during that period (-92%).

Nevertheless, exports in October increased by 12.9% (+US$685 million), this being the fourth increase in shipments abroad since the beginning of the pandemic (June, July and September). This growth was due to increased shipments of copper cathodes, iron, potassium nitrate, pork, fertilizers, tires and fresh apples.

International Economic Relations Undersecretary (SUBREI) Rodrigo Yáñez explained that “the figures in October reflect the improved production prospects of some of our major trading partners, such as China, Brazil and South Korea, which lead the growth in our shipments this month.”

The undersecretary highlighted that in October, 555 products achieved their highest export value this year, including iron ore (US$163 million), Hass avocados (US$60 million), shelled walnuts (US$31 million), hazelnuts (US$27 million) and prunes (US$18 million). Meanwhile, shipments of Pisco (Chile’s grape-based spirit), shelled almonds, lily flower bulbs, olive oil, raisins and cork stoppers recorded the highest values for 2020. Another highlight was the number of companies with export sales in October – a total of 2,845 - 113 of which exported for the first time.

Ninety-six percent of Chile’s exports in October went to countries with a Free Trade Agreement. “Exports to our trading partners amounted to US$5.6 billion, 5% more than in the same period in 2019. On the other hand, shipments in October to countries without trade agreements fell by 18%, which was the ninth consecutive drop in the year. This reflects the strength of our network of trade agreements,” said Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez.

In regard to regional performance within Chile, he indicated that nine out of the 16 regions showed an increase in their exports. Antofagasta was the region that exported the most in October, with operations for US$2.1 billion, representing 35.8% of Chile’s total sales abroad in ore and copper exports. Shipments of agricultural and livestock products were headed by the O’Higgins Region (US$164 million), while the Biobío Region’s main export was forestry products (US$232 million), the Los Lagos Region headed shipments of seafood products (US$356 million), and the Metropolitan Region led the way in manufactured goods, services and wine exports.

Lastly, another decrease in imports was recorded in October, with a 13.4% drop (-US$797 million), due to fewer imports of diesel, petroleum and automobiles. However, more computers, washing machines, televisions, refrigerators, stoves, gym and physical exercise equipment, pork, perfumes and pulses were imported in the same month, reflecting a change in consumers’ purchasing patterns due to lockdown measures.

Other markets on the rise

Exports to the European Union (EU), our third biggest trading partner, saw their first increase of the year (15%), with most shipments going to Germany, Spain and Bulgaria. The products leading the rise in sales to the EU were hazelnuts (+US$21 million) walnuts (US$16 million) and potassium nitrate (US$11 million). Other significant exports were iodine, gold, hake, mussels, prunes, plants and olive oil.   

Also worth noting were exports to the Middle East, totaling US$30 million, an increase of 27% in October, driven by the growth in our food exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which increased by 17% over the same month in 2019. Shipments were mainly for walnuts, salmon and fresh apples.