In the first three months of 2021, Chile’s foreign trade reached US$ 40.9 billion, a 26.3% increase over the same period in 2020, the highest number in the past decade. The country’s exports totaled US$ 21.7 billion and imports totaled US$ 19.1 billion. Both flows grew at a similar magnitude in comparison to the first quarter of 2020, representing a 26.3% increase, based on a report prepared by the International Economic Relations Undersecretary’s Office (SUBREI) with data from the Chilean Central Bank.
“Despite the difficult context for the global and national economy, foreign trade has positioned itself as one of the pillars of our economic reactivation. This is the result of efforts to promote trade despite the health crisis, to keep the flow open and prevent obstacles. This is added to our network of trade agreements that have enabled us to remain competitive in terms of exports with our trade partners,” said the Undersecretary of International Economic Relations, Rodrigo Yáñez.
The strong growth in exports in the first three months of 2021 can be explained by the increase in external sales of copper, sustained by its average price of 384 USD ¢/lb, representing one of the highest first quarter values since 2011. Likewise, there has been a notable growth in shipments of cherries, iron, blueberries, fertilizers, silver, fruit juice, profiled timber, frozen fruit, bottled and bulk wine, coniferous pulp and cardboard. According to statistics, this has been a historic first quarter for Chilean exports.
On the other hand, imports for the first quarter of 2021 totaled US$ 19.1 billion, experiencing an increase of 26.3% over the same period in 2020, recording the best first quarter since 2013. The growth in imports for the period is explained by the increase in purchases from abroad in the three main categories of goods: consumer (+38%), intermediate (+18%) and capital (+33%).
In March 2021, Chile’s foreign trade totaled US$ 14.8 billion, with US$ 7.39 billion in exports and US$ 7.42 billion in imports.
“March numbers confirm the progressive recovery of Chile’s foreign trade, which has been consolidating since the fourth quarter of 2020. It is worth mentioning that for the first time in over a year, the amount of imports has exceeded exports, revealing better medium-term perspectives in the domestic market,” indicated the Undersecretary of International Economic Relations.
In terms of exports this month, 13 of 16 regions in the country experienced an increase in sales abroad. The highest growth was seen in Antofagasta (+US$ 856 million), Atacama (+US$ 201 million) and Valparaíso (+US$ 89 million).
Likewise, in March 2021, a total of 2,941 Chilean companies recorded exports, 2.7% less than March 2020, approaching pre-pandemic levels, after January saw a 10% drop in the amount of companies exporting and an 8% drop in February.
Of all exports, 94% were sent to countries that Chile has signed Free Trade Agreements with. Exports to this group of markets collectively account for US$ 6.8 billion, recording an increase in shipments to a large number of partners, highlighting China (+44%), United States (+18%), Japan (+18%), MERCOSUR (+50%), Canada (+42%), India (+8%) and the EFTA (+129%).
In terms of imports, the biggest increases this month were seen in the purchase of automobiles, oil, clothing, home appliances, televisions, computers, textiles, diesel, footwear and mobile phones. China was the main source of our imports for the month (29%), followed by the United States (18%), European Union (14%) and MERCOSUR (14%).