In addition to its close proximity to Drake Passage near South America’s southerly tip, Chile shares borders with Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast and Argentina to the east.
Chile shipped US$75.5 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar figure represents a tiny percentage (0.4%) of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier during 2017.
From a continental perspective, over half (53.8%) of Chilean exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 17.9% were sold to North American importers. Chile shipped another 14.5% to European nations while 12% worth went to other Latin American countries (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean. Much smaller percentages went to Africa and Oceania led by Australia.
Chile’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Chile’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Chilean shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each importing country’s percentage of Chile’s total exported products.
- China: US$24.5 billion (32.5% of total Chilean exports)
- United States: $10.6 billion (14.1%)
- Japan: $6.8 billion (9.1%)
- South Korea: $4.4 billion (5.8%)
- Brazil: $3.4 billion (4.6%)
- Peru: $1.8 billion (2.4%)
- Spain: $1.7 billion (2.2%)
- Netherlands: $1.6 billion (2.1%)
- Canada: $1.6 billion (2.1%)
- India: $1.5 billion (2%)
- Mexico: $1.3 billion (1.8%)
- Taiwan: $1.3 billion (1.7%)
- Switzerland: $1.1 billion (1.5%)
- France: $1.1 billion (1.4%)
- Germany: $1 billion (1.4%)
Well over four-fifths (84.5%) of Chilean exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Fastest-growing among trade partners importing goods from Chile were Switzerland (up 184.2%), China (up 28.2%), France (up 20%) then Mexico (up 13.8%).
Declining export sales from Chile were led by India (down -31.4%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Chile incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- Brazil: -US$3.2 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Argentina: -$2.5 billion
- United States: -$2.5 billion
- Germany: -$1.8 billion
- Ecuador: -$1.1 billion
- Mexico: -$975.4 million
- Trinidad/Tobago: -$684.3 million
- Colombia: -$603 million
- Thailand: -$530.3 million
- Paraguay: -$505.8 million
Among Chile’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Chilean deficits with Paraguay (up 1,575%), Brazil (up 45.8%) and United States (up 41.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Chile’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Chile to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Overall Chile earned a $6.9 billion trade surplus in 2018, up 65.2% from the $4.2 billion in black ink for 2017.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Chile incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- China: US$9.1 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Japan: $4.8 billion
- South Korea: $2.7 billion
- Netherlands: $1.1 billion
- Taiwan: $1 billion
- Switzerland: $869.2 million
- Russia: $857.7 million
- Canada: $712.8 million
- Peru: $705.7 million
- India: $533.2 million
Among Chile’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Chilean surpluses with Switzerland (up 504.1%), China (up 155%) and Russia (up 33.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Chile’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Chile to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Chilean Trading Partners
According to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following 8 companies are examples of leading Chilean 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)
See also Chile’s Top 10 Exports, Chile’s Top 10 Imports and Top South American Export Countries
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 9, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 9, 2019