Chile finds unprecedented success in diverse exports

Considerable growth of non-copper exports, in particular to Africa and Asia, help lessen dependence on extraction of primary materials.

Over recent years Chile has embarked on a prudent strategy of diversifying its exports. Known globally as a leading producer of copper, the Andean nation’s economy has traditionally been supported in large part by the extraction and sale of the red metal, but attempts to diversify and thereby reduce Chile’s dependence on primary materials have made a notable impact already according to the latest figures.

Although copper is still the country’s principal export, the sale of other goods on the international market increased by an explosive 47.6 percent in 2013, said trade body Pro Chile.

Carlos Honorato, director of the group, said that export figures like these are unprecedented.

“Exports for 2013, with the exception of copper, are at the highest figure ever recorded,” he told América Economia, adding that this trend has been detectable for the preceding three years.

According to Honorato, Chilean exports as a whole grew around 9 percent between 2010 and 2013 — an increase from US$71.1 million to US$77.4 million — of which non-copper products played a significant role.

Part of the growth in non-copper exports has been attributed to the efforts of Chilean businesses, seeing the trend of the market and offering high quality services at international standards with significant success. This, in turn, helps to reduce the country’s overall dependency on copper.

The markets for Chilean products are also notably diverse. Sales to Africa increased by 38 percent from 2010 to 2013 while exports to North America grew by 24 percent in the same period. That growth was shared equally by copper and non copper products.

The combined regions of South America, Central America and the Caribbean also saw a modest increase — around 14 percent growth for Chilean exports to the region as a whole.

Finally, Asia, Oceania and the Middle East as an export destination saw a less dramatic growth rate of 7 percent, but this remains a positive as this jump is accounted for in large part by a growth in non copper product sales.

Among the many traditionally strong export commodities produced in Chile are wood products, aquaculture and fresh fruit.