First semester 2011

Chilean exports rebound to same levels as before financial crisis

Chile’s trade balance was boosted by record high prices for copper and persistent demand in China, the European Union, the United States, and Japan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011  
Chilean exports totaled US$41.3 billion in first semester, 2011. Chilean exports totaled US$41.3 billion in first semester, 2011.

Chilean exports increased 26 percent in the first semester of 2011 as compared to 2010, according to a recent report by the General Office of International Economic Relations (Direcon).

Between January and July this year, exports totaled US$41.3 billion, slightly higher than export levels prior to the international financial crisis in 2008.

Chile has enjoyed a relatively privileged isolation from the financial crisis affecting many other countries, recording steady economic growth and excellent financial ratings from international credit firms.

Copper exports alone accounted for US$22.1 billion, buoyed by a historic average price of US$4.30 per pound. The high price of copper more than compensated for a contraction in total volume of copper sold abroad.

Non-copper exports increased 30.4 percent compared to the same period last year, totaling US$19.2 billion. Manufactured goods had already rebounded to pre-crisis levels earlier this year, led by increased exports in processed foods, wines and liquors.

Agriculture Minister José Antonio Galilea reported that forestry, agriculture, and fishery exports increased 16 percent in the first semester as compared to 2010, reaching a total value of nearly US$8.7 billion.

The forestry sector experienced an especially successful export season, thanks to sustained demand from markets in Asia and the European Union.

China was once again Chile’s biggest export market, importing more than US$8.1 billion worth of goods: a 4.4 percent increase from the same period last year. Nearly 20 percent of all Chilean exports headed to China between January and July 2011.

Following closely on China’s heels, the European Union imported 19.5 percent of Chile’s total exports, totaling US$8.1 billion and representing a 43 percent increase from last year.

More than 12 percent of Chilean exports headed to the United States in the first half of 2011, a 32.4 percent increase from the year before, with a total value of US$5.1 billion.

Chile’s other major trading partner, Japan, saw its imports increase to US$4.6 billion in the first semester, even following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the Asian country in March 2011.

The trade figures reflect the power and success of Chile’s many free trade agreements with nations around the world: 92.5 percent of external sales were in countries where Chile has commercial agreements.

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