Chile’s Top 10 Exports

Chile’s Top 10 Exports


A South American nation occupying a long strip of land bordering with Argentina to its east, Peru to its north and Bolivia to its northeast, Chile shipped US$65.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount represents a -14.9% drop from 2013 to 2017 but an 8.7% increase from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Chile’s exported goods plus services represent 28.2% of total Chilean economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

Given Chile’s population of 17.8 million people, the total $65.9 billion in 2017 Chilean exports translates to roughly $3,700 for every person in the country.

From a continental perspective, almost half (49.9%) of Chilean exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 18.6% were sold to North American importers. Chile shipped another 15.3% to European nations while 14.5% worth went to other Latin American countries (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean.

Chile’s unemployment rate was 6.4% as of December 2017 up from 6.1% in October 2016, 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 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Chile.

  1. Copper: US$17.6 billion (26.7% of total exports)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $17 billion (25.8%)
  3. Fish: $5.3 billion (8%)
  4. Fruits, nuts: $4.8 billion (7.3%)
  5. Woodpulp: $2.6 billion (3.9%)
  6. Wood: $2.2 billion (3.4%)
  7. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $2.1 billion (3.1%)
  8. Inorganic chemicals: $1.8 billion (2.7%)
  9. Gems, precious metals: $1.4 billion (2.1%)
  10. Meat: $814.4 million (1.2%)

Chile’s top 10 exports accounted for 84.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Chilean gems and precious metals were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories via a 38.8% improvement from 2016 to 2017, thanks principally to stronger international sales of gold and silver.

In second place for improving export sales were inorganic chemicals which gained 21.8%.

Chile’s fish exports posted the third-fastest gain in value up 19%, trailed by exported copper’s 15.3% uptick.

Three product categories declined in value year over year: fruits and nuts (down -19.2%), meat (down -9.9%) and wood (down -2.1%).


Overall, Chile earned a $6.4 billion trade surplus in 2017 up 257.9% from $1.8 billion for 2016.

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 equal 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.

  1. Copper: US$17.5 billion (Up by 15.4% since 2016)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $16.7 billion (Up by 15.1%)
  3. Fish: $5.2 billion (Up by 18.9%)
  4. Fruits, nuts: $4.6 billion (Down by -19.9%)
  5. Woodpulp: $2.5 billion (Up by 7.1%)
  6. Wood: $2 billion (Down by -2.5%)
  7. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $1.6 billion (Up by 10.3%)
  8. Gems, precious metals: $1.3 billion (Up by 42%)
  9. Inorganic chemicals: $1.1 billion (Up by 30.5%)
  10. Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $358.1 million (Up by 0.4%)

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-$9 billion (Up by 25.5% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles : -$7.2 billion (Up by 13.4%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$7 billion (Up by 3.3%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$5.8 billion (Down by -16.2%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.8 billion (Up by 3.5%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: -$1.2 billion (Up by 15.7%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.2 billion (Down by -0.2%)
  8. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$1.1 billion (Up by 5.5%)
  9. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$1.1 billion (Down by -6.1%)
  10. Footwear: -$1 billion (Up by 9.6%)

Chile has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products, particularly refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases.

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 Global 2000 rankings, the following 8 companies are examples of major Chilean export companies:

  • AntarChile (investment services)
  • BCI-Banco Credito (regional bank)
  • Cencosud (food retail)
  • CorpBanca (regional bank)
  • Falabella (department stores)
  • Latam Airlines (airline)
  • Quinenco (investment conglomerate)
  • 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 Chile’s Top Trading Partners and Top South American Export Countries

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 15, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 15, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on February 15, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 15, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Chile. Accessed on February 15, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 15, 2018