The first 31 days of 2012 opened the year with a bang for Chilean exporters, marking one of the highest figures in history with US$7.6 billion in exports sent abroad. The 10.8 percent increase in exports compared to the same period last year – which totaled US$6.9 billion – caused economists to revise their predictions for the 2012 export report.
Previously, the Central Bank had estimated that 2012 exports would total about US$78.8 billion in 2012, predicting a drop in exports compared to 2011. Given the improved market conditions abroad, however, and a higher price for copper, some economists are predicting that 2012 exports could exceed US$82 billion.
The only other month that exceeded January 2012 in export value occurred in May 2011, when exports totalled US$7.7 billion – thanks in large part to the historically high price of copper.
According to the Central Bank report, mineral exports – including copper – reached US$4.6 billion during the first 31 days of 2012, compared to US$4.1 billion in the same period of 2011. This marked the second-highest level of mineral exports in Chile’s history, topped only by several hundred thousand dollars during May 2011.
Economists expect more good news for the mining sector in 2012, as world copper prices are expected to increase in response to the sustained dynamism in Asia – particularly China, where Chilean exports increased 23 percent in January this year – as well as the improved outlook in the United States and Europe.
While 2012 copper prices were originally predicted to hover around US$3.50 per pound, Chilean economists are now optimistic that average copper price could be anywhere between US$4.60 and 3.80 next year.
Director Félix de Vicente of ProChile said that the export promotion agency will focus its efforts in the coming year on relatively new sectors – like technological services and gourmet foods. At a recent exhibit in Dubai’s Gulf Food Fair, the Chilean stand won a prize for its high-quality olive oils, wines and seafood.
“We are going to shine the spotlight on non-traditional, value-added products and
focus our efforts on that sector,” de Vicente said.