Well-known as the world’s leading copper producer, Chile is now looking to diversify its export market to focus on a raft of non-mining products. Years of work on the part of several government bodies have already laid the ground for an export push and the Andean nation now operates a roaring trade in several sectors, particularly fresh produce, wood products and aquaculture.
An important factor is its open business model — Chile has more trade agreements than any other country — ensuring the global market is largely open to its products.
National trade commision ProChile recently published figures demonstrating significant growth in the export of a range of products. In 2003, the Andean nation was a top three producer of 11 non-mining products, that figure has more than doubled since, reaching 23 this year.
The same figures show that Chile is the top exporter for nine further products. Fresh grapes topped the list with exports totalling US$1.5 billion in 2012 — 20.6 percent of the total fresh grape market for the year and more than double the amount exported by the United States, the world’s second biggest exporter.
The Andean nation is also the second highest exporter of cherries with sales of US$ 407 million in the same year. Other fruits are also big business with booming trade in the export of blueberries (US$409 million), fresh plums (US$146 million) and dried apples (US$39 million).
Aquaculture also accounted for much of the country’s export success: in particular, fish fillets US$ 582 million in exports — the second highest in the world.
Produce aside, Chile’s forestry industry stands out with refined coniferous wood and wood fibre boards, accounting for US$229 million and US$150 million in exports, respectively.
Non-mining export products now total US$29 billion, but according to Carlos Honorato, Director of ProChile, there is still work to be done to diversify from the country’s traditionally copper-based economy.
“Through ProChile, the Chilean government has been focusing its efforts on diversifying export products as well as the destinations of Chilean exports,” Honorato told The Santiago Times. “We believe that the innovation of our businesses will make them more competitive and allow us to develop the country, moving us away from dependency on raw materials.”
During a recent tour of Asia, President Sebastián Piñera met with heads of state to promote ties between the region’s leading economies and promote greater trade in the future. A “historic” trade agreement with Thailand and further developments in Chile’s historically strong economic relationship with China were among the outcomes.