Chilean imports amounted to US$64.1 billion in 2019, up by 2.8% since 2015 but down by -13.6% from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Chilean peso depreciated by -7.5% against the US dollar since 2015 and dropped by -9.6% from 2018 to 2019. Chile’s weaker local currency makes its imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from Chilean pesos.
From a continental perspective, 34.1% of Chile’s total imports by value in 2019 were purchased from Asian countries. North American trade partners supplied 23.8% of import purchases by Chile while 22.7% worth of goods originated from Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. At 17.2%, a smaller percentage came from European exporters. Smaller percentages came from Africa (0.6%) and Oceania (0.5%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Chile’s population of 19.1 million people, its total $64.1 billion in 2019 imports translates to roughly $3,400 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 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Chile.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$10.8 billion (16.9% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $8.5 billion (13.2%)
- Vehicles: $7.2 billion (11.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $5.9 billion (9.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.3 billion (3.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $1.6 billion (2.6%)
- Meat: $1.5 billion (2.4%)
- Iron, steel: $1.5 billion (2.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $1.4 billion (2.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.4 billion (2.1%)
Chile’s top 10 imports accounted for roughly two-thirds (65.6%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported pharmaceuticals posted the strongest growth in value among the top 10 import categories, up 6.7% from 2018 to 2019. The only other increase was a 2.5% gain for meat.
Leading the decliners year over year were Chile’s international purchases of vehicles (down -30.6%), electrical machinery and equipment (down -20.1%) and plastics including items made from plastic (down -12.8%).
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 crude oil (6.4% of the total), refined petroleum oils (6.2%), cars (5%), trucks (3.1%), mobile phones (3%), petroleum gases (2.8%), medication mixes in dosages (1.7%), computers (1.6%), fresh or chilled beef (1.5%) then coal (1.3%).
In 2019, Chilean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$4.1 billion (down -2.3% from 2018)
- Processed petroleum oils: $4 billion (down -19.1%)
- Petroleum gases: $1.8 billion (down -7.6%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $860.7 million (down -26.3%)
- Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $53.2 million (up 71.4%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $14.6 million (down -14.8%)
- Peat: $8.1 million (up 3.1%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $4.6 million (down -38.8%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $3.3 million (down -85.6%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $1.7 million (up 86.8%)
Among these import subcategories, Chilean purchases of coke or semi-coke (up 86.8%), asphalt or petroleum bitumen mixes (up 71.4%) then peat (up 3.1%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
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 2019, Chilean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$997.5 million (down -21.7% from 2018)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $637.8 million (down -1.6%)
- Machinery parts: $502.5 million (down -0.1%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $372.3 million (down -16.9%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $355.8 million (down -3.4%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $348.9 million (up 3.7%)
- Sort/screen/washing machinery: $314.7 million (down -2.2%)
- Printing machinery: $304.4 million (down -16.2%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $296.6 million (up 1.2%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $283.5 million (up 0.1%)
Among these import subcategories, Chilean purchases of liquid pumps and elevators (up 3.7%), transmission shafts, gears and clutches (up 1.2%) then refrigerators and freezers (up 0.1%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
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 2019, Chilean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$3.2 billion (down -35.5% from 2018)
- Trucks: $2 billion (down -27.9%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $598.9 million (down -37.3%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $526.6 million (down -11.2%)
- Tractors: $332.6 million (down -33.4%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $153.3 million (up 34.9%)
- Motorcycles: $122.1 million (down -1.1%)
- Trailers: $121.2 million (down -21.6%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $75.7 million (down -13%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $20.1 million (down -30.5%)
Among these import subcategories, only Chilean purchases of special purpose vehicles (up 34.9%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
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 2019, Chilean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical goods including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$1.9 billion (down -31.6% from 2018)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $555.3 million (down -30.2%)
- Electric motors, generators: $438.6 million (up 74.7%)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $383.6 million (down -28.8%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $322.5 million (down -0.6%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $230.1 million (down -13.9%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $189.6 million (down -10%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $187.1 million (down -4.5%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $185 million (down -5.6%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $148.6 million (down -33.1%)
Among these import subcategories, only Chilean purchases of electric motors and generators (up 74.7%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
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
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on March 15, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 15, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 15, 2020