Chilean imports amounted to US$68.5 billion in 2018, down by -5.9% since 2014 but up by 5.3% from 2017 to 2018.
Chile’s imports represent a tiny 0.4% of total global imports which totaled $17.788 trillion estimated for one year earlier in 2017.
From a continental perspective, 34.2% of Chile’s total imports by value in 2018 were purchased from Asian countries. North American trade partners supplied 23.7% of import purchases by Chile while 23.4% worth of goods originated from Latin America (23.4%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. At 16.5%, a smaller percentage came from European exporters.
Given Chile’s population of 17.9 million people, its total $68.5 billion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $3,800 in yearly product demand from every person in the South American country.
Chile’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Chile’s import purchases during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Chile.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$11.9 billion (17.3% of total imports)
- Vehicles: $9 billion (13.1%)
- Machinery including computers: $8.4 billion (12.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $6.4 billion (9.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.5 billion (3.7%)
- Iron, steel: $1.6 billion (2.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $1.5 billion (2.2%)
- Meat: $1.5 billion (2.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.4 billion (2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $1.4 billion (2%)
Chile’s top 10 imports accounted for two-thirds (66.3%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported iron and steel had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 32.2% from 2017 to 2018.
In second place for improving import purchases was mineral fuels including oil, up 23.6%. Close behind were Chilean imports of items made from iron or steel delivering the third-fastest gain up 17.1%.
Electrical machinery and equipment was the laggard among the top 10 Chilean imports, posting a -9% decline.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Chile’s costliest imported products are refined petroleum oils (6.7% of total) followed by cars (6.4%), crude oil (6%), trucks (3.7%), mobile phones (3.2%), petroleum gases (2.8%) then coal (1.7%).
In 2018, Chilean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$4.6 billion (up 18.7% from 2017)
- Crude oil: $4.1 billion (up 31.5%)
- Petroleum gases: $1.9 billion (up 28%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $1.2 billion (up 11.5%)
- Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $31 million (up 15.2%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $22.9 million (up 76.9%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $17.2 million (up 13.2%)
- Peat: $7.8 million (up 7.6%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $7.5 million (up 65.4%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $887,000 (down -37.2%)
Among these import subcategories, Chilean purchases of natural bitumen, asphalt and shale (up 76.9%), high temperature-distilled coal tar oils (up 65.4%) and crude oil (up 31.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among Chilean businesses and consumers.
In 2018, Chilean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$4.4 billion (up 3.7% from 2017)
- Trucks: $2.6 billion (up 10%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $558.3 million (down -35.5%)
- Tractors: $497.8 million (up 14.4%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $441.5 million (down -11.1%)
- Trailers: $147.2 million (up 15.7%)
- Motorcycles: $114.9 million (up 18.2%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $112.7 million (down -6.7%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $80.3 million (up 1.6%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $20.5 million (down -31.1%)
Among these import subcategories, Chilean purchases of motorcycles (up 18.2%), trailers (up 15.7%) and tractors (up 14.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of vehicles-related imports among Chilean businesses and consumers.
In 2018, Chilean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$1.1 billion (up 6.3% from 2017)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $650.9 million (up 39.6%)
- Machinery parts: $495.7 million (up 19.3%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $446.4 million (up 38.4%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $363.6 million (up 18.4%)
- Printing machinery: $349.8 million (down -5.9%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $328.6 million (up 9.7%)
- Sort/screen/washing machinery: $313.5 million (up 54.8%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $292 million (up 17.1%)
- Lifting/loading machinery: $267.8 million (down -13.2%)
Among these import subcategories, Chilean purchases of sorting, screening and washing machinery (up 54.8%), heavy machinery including bulldozers, excavators and road rollers (up 39.6%) and centrifuges, filters and purifiers (up 38.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of machinery-related imports among Chilean businesses and consumers.
In 2018, Chilean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical goods including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$2.2 billion (down -18% from 2017)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $644.4 million (down -17.4%)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $538.2 million (up 19.4%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $318 million (up 26%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $261.5 million (up 19.5%)
- Electric motors, generators: $236.9 million (down -28.1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $192.7 million (up 3.4%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $187.8 million (down -1.6%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $184.7 million (down -11.9%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $176 million (down -15.6%)
Among these import subcategories, Chilean purchases of insulated wire or cable (up 26%), electrical converters and power units (up 19.5%) and electric generating sets or converters (up 19.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of electronics-related imports among Chilean businesses and consumers.
See also Chile’s Top Trading Partners, Chile’s Top 10 Exports and Top South American Export Countries
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 9, 2019
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 9, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 9, 2019