Chile’s Top 10 Exports

Chile’s Top 10 Exports


Chile shipped US$57.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, up by 4.1% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in but down by -8.9% from 2015 to 2016.

Chile’s top 10 exports accounted for 83% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Chile’s total Gross Domestic Product was $436.1 billion for 2016.

Therefore, exports accounted for about 13.2% of total Chilean economic output.

Given Chile’s population of 17.7 million people, the total $57.7 billion in 2016 Chilean exports translates to roughly $3,300 for every person in the country.

From a continental perspective, 51.1% of Chilean exports by value are delivered to Asian countries while 18% are sold to North American importers. Chile ships another 14.9% to European nations and 14.1% going to other Latin American countries (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean.

Chile’s unemployment rate was 6.1% as of December 2016 down from 6.3% in October 2015, according to Trading Economics.

Chile’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Chilean global shipments during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Chile.

  1. Copper: US$15.2 billion (26.4% of total exports)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $13.3 billion (23.1%)
  3. Fruits, nuts: $5 billion (8.7%)
  4. Fish: $4.4 billion (7.6%)
  5. Woodpulp: $2.4 billion (4.2%)
  6. Wood: $2.3 billion (4%)
  7. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $1.9 billion (3.3%)
  8. Inorganic chemicals: $1.5 billion (2.5%)
  9. Gems, precious metals: $1 billion (1.8%)
  10. Meat: $904.4 million (1.6%)

Chilean fish were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 65.5% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place for improving export sales were inorganic chemicals which gained 64.2%.

Chilean timber posted the third-fastest gain in value at 51.3%, followed by exported fruits and nuts up 43.2%.

Two product categories declined in value from 2009 to 2016. Copper decreased by -24%. Gems and precious metals fell by -17.6% led by a precipitous drop for exported silver.


The following types of Chilean product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services. Overall, Chile posted a $4.4 billion trade surplus for all products in 2016.

  1. Copper: US$15.2 billion (Down by -24.3% since 2009)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $13 billion (Up by 15.7%)
  3. Fruits, nuts: $4.8 billion (Up by 40.6%)
  4. Fish: $4.3 billion (Up by 64.8%)
  5. Woodpulp: $2.4 billion (Up by 19.8%)
  6. Wood: $2 billion (Up by 49.1%)
  7. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $1.5 billion (Up by 18.6%)
  8. Gems, precious metals: $932.9 million (Down by -22.4%)
  9. Inorganic chemicals: $826.4 million (Up by 308.7%)
  10. Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $357.7 million (Down by -16.3%)

Chile has highly positive net exports in the international trade of copper. In turn, these cashflows indicate Chile’s strong competitive advantages for this essential construction material. However, an over-reliance on copper exports also represents a vulnerability should global construction activity slow.


Below are exports from Chile that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Chile’s goods trail Chilean importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$7 billion (Down by -23.4% since 2009)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$6.4 billion (Up by 8.6%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$6 billion (Up by 57.5%)
  4. Vehicles : -$5.6 billion (Up by 81.6%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.7 billion (Up by 86.8%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.1 billion (Up by 79.5%)
  7. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$1 billion (Up by 93.9%)
  8. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$1 billion (Up by 78.4%)
  9. Pharmaceuticals: -$1 billion (Up by 95%)
  10. Footwear: -$881.3 million (Up by 98.3%)

Chile has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for fossil fuel, embracing both crude and refined petroleum oils.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Chile’s competitive disadvantages in the international fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Chile to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations particularly for alternative energy sources.


Chilean Export Companies

According to Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, the following 8 companies are examples of major Chilean export companies:

  • Falabella (department stores)
  • Cencosud (food retail)
  • AntarChile (investment services)
  • Latam Airlines (airline)
  • BCI-Banco Credito (regional bank)
  • Quinenco (investment conglomerate)
  • CorpBanca (regional bank)
  • SQM Materials (diversified chemicals)

Chile’s capital city is Santiago.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Fastest-Growing Chilean Export Products, Chile’s Top Import Partners and Chile’s Fastest-Growing Import Partners

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 13, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 13, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on February 13, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 13, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Chile. Accessed on February 13, 2017

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 13, 2017