In February 2021, Chile’s trade exchange reached US$ 13.1 billion, 36% up from the same period last year, and reaching its highest rate in the last 10 years. Imports amounted to US$ 6 billion, 32% higher than the same month in 2020, according to the report prepared by the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations (SUBREI), with figures provided by the Central Bank.
Chilean exports amounted to US$ 7.1 billion during the month, 41% up from February 2020. Copper shipments totaled US$ 3.9 billion, 65% higher than the same month in 2020. Exports were driven by the international sales of products hit by the pandemic, such as cellulose and services.
Rodrigo Yáñez, SUBREI’s Undersecretary, referred to the boom in exports which is due to the fact that Chile’s foremost trading partners -China, United States, and the European Union (EU)- are giving signs of economic and productive reactivation. The official also emphasized that “95.2% of Chilean exports were made to countries with which Chile has subscribed free trade agreements.”
The official highlighted the growth in services that amounted to US$ 146 million in February (+38% over the same month in 2020), the best February ever recorded. This expansion is due mainly to the export of “hosting and email supply services”, “trade commissioner services” and others.
“The increase in the exportable offering with a focus on services and digital trade, together with the diversification of destination markets, is fundamental for the economic reactivation.” said Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez.
In addition, food exports totaled US$ 1.7 billion (+29% over February 2020) with increased shipments of fresh cherries, frozen Pacific salmon, blueberries, Atlantic salmon fillets, pork, frozen strawberries, hazelnuts, inulin and raisins, among other products.
In geographic terms, China led the month’s shipments with US$ 2.2 billion (+53% higher than February 2020). United States followed with US$ 1.1 billion (+57% up from shipments in February 2020). In consequence, our second trade partner concentrated 19% of our international shipments. The European Union ranked third with sales to the bloc totaling US$ 552 million (+29% up from 2020). Also noteworthy is the 228% hike in shipments to Indonesia, the trade partner with the highest growth in shipments from Chile during February – on a percentage basis – due to larger shipments of cellulose, copper, fresh cherries, fresh grapes, potassium iodide and services.
As for the regions of Chile, 14 out of the sixteen increased their international shipments over February 2021. This was led by the regions of Antofagasta (+US$270 million), O’Higgins (+US$ 235 million) and Tarapacá (+US$ 132 million).
Although exports have generally grown in all variables, the number of exporting companies has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. In February 2021, 2,742 companies were engaged in foreign trade, 9% down from the 3,013 exporting companies in February 2020.
Meanwhile, imports amounted to US$ 6 billion, with increases in all categories: intermediate goods (+28%), consumer goods (+37%) and capital goods (+33%).
“The fast vaccination process and the improved perspectives about controlling the pandemic have pushed up domestic consumption. Evidence thereof is that in February imports jumped 32%, growing in all categories, such as cars (64%; +US$ 87 million), mobile phones (96%; + US$ 75 million), trucks (44%; + US$ 57 million), computers (118%; +US$ 35 million) and TV sets (89%; +US$ 21 million), which accounts for a better domestic scenario,” said Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez.