September 8, 2021
Foreign Trade

Chile’s foreign trade hits US$ 118 billion; national imports up by 50% in 2021

Chile’s foreign trade hits US$ 118 billion; national imports up by 50% in 2021
Chiles’s foreign trade hit US$ 118 billion during the first eight months of 2021, up 39% over 2020, according to a report prepared by the International Economic Relations Undersecretary’s Office (SUBREI), based on data from Chile’s Central Bank.

Both exports and imports hit record highs over the same period. Exports totaled US$ 61.2 billion, up 30% over 2020. For their part, imports totaled US$ 56.7 billion, up 50% over the same period in 2020 and just US$ 3 billion below total imports for the whole of 2020.

International Economic Relations Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez stated, “global foreign trade has continued to exhibit a solid recovery in 2021. Our trade partners have registered a considerable increase in imports, including the US, China, Germany, Mexico and South Korea. This has led to global increases in exports and higher demand for air and maritime transport.”

The three major import categories saw double-digit increases: consumer goods (US$ 17 billion, +72%), intermediate goods (US$ 28.3 billion, +45%) and capital goods (US$ 11.5 billion, +36%).

“The significant momentum in imports is based on increased purchases of petroleum oil, cars, natural gas, trucks, mobile phones, laptop computers, vaccines, tablets, tires, PCR reagents, beer and other products. These items have benefited from the strong expansion of demand and consumption in the local market in 2021,” Mr. Yáñez said.

One of the sectors that registered the highest increase in imports in 2021 is supplies for combating and controlling the spread of COVID-19, with imports of US$ 2.4 billion in the first eight months of 2021, including an increase in vaccine (+510%), PCR reagent (+51%) and needle and tube (+39%) imports. The main providers of these articles have been China, the United States, Germany, India, France, South Korea, Ireland, Argentina and Malaysia. Chile has signed free trade agreements with all of these nations.

All of the major export categories also saw growth, namely mineral shipments (US$ 38 billion, +50%), agriculture and livestock shipments (US$ 5.1 billion, +7%) and sales of industrial products (US$ 18 billion, +6%).

At the product level, the increase in Chilean shipments continues to be led by copper, which posted record sales abroad of US$ 35 billion, up 50% over 2020. Copper represented 57% of the country’s exports. The international price of this metal averaged US$ ¢/lb 416, which is 60% higher than the average for the same period in 2020. This is also the highest value since the price reached since the first eight months of 2011 (US$ ¢/lb 426).

Between January and August, over 1,600 Chilean products and services other than copper have experienced increased exports. Notable examples include website hosting, potassium nitrate, frozen jack mackerel, original software development, drilling machinery, fresh kiwi fruit, mussels, wood trim, clementines, hazelnuts, glass bottles, ICT consultancy services, walnuts, tires and insulin, among other items.

Countries with free trade agreements in place with Chile imported 95% of the country’s exported goods. China alone purchased 38.8% of the total, followed by the United States (16.1%), the European Union (8.5%), Japan (8%) and MERCOSUR countries (6%). Other key destinations include South Korea, the Pacific Alliance countries, Canada, India, the European Free Trade Association countries and Thailand.

August 2021

Chile’s foreign trade totaled US$ 16.4 billion in August, which is 55% higher than it was during the same month in 2020. The country’s exports totaled US$ 7.8 billion, up 35% over August 2020, with a year of successive monthly increases. Meanwhile, imports totaled US$ 8.6 billion, up 79% over August 2020. This was also the seventh consecutive monthly increase, setting a new record for the highest amount in a single month.