Chile Industry

Industry is an important part of Chile’s economy, but its relative contribution to GDP is declining. Manufacturing, mining and construction account for just under a third of GDP, around 10 percentage points less than a decade earlier. The iron and steel industry is important, as is the food processing industry.

From the 1930s until Pinochet took power in 1973, the Chilean industry was protected by high tariffs against imports. When the customs protection was abolished in the 1970s, many companies, especially in the textile industry, were forced to strike again.

Bankruptcies continued for many years and the industry’s share of GDP fell between 1975 and 1992 from one quarter down to about one sixth. However, with good access to raw materials and increasing inflow of capital, the industry subsequently expanded over a number of years. In recent years, however, growth has been modest and other sectors relatively strengthened.

Chilean industrial goods have become competitive in the world market, largely thanks to foreign investment. Especially foods, including wine, fish products, metal products, paper and pulp have sold well in the export market. The textile and shoe industries are still important, as is the iron and steel industry, as well as the chemical and plastic industries.

There are plenty of small businesses. The industry is concentrated in the areas around Santiago, Valparaíso and Concepción.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Chile. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.




New calculation method gives new corona numbers

June 20

The number of deaths in covid-19 almost doubled to almost 7,000, when a new way of counting cases is used. The new method shows that Santiago has the fourth highest number of infected cities in the world, after New York, Moscow and São Paulo, according to data from the American University Johns Hopkins. The different accounting methods have a week earlier led to the former health minister’s departure. The new Minister of Health, Enrique Paris, assures that it has never been the government’s intention to hide the actual figures.

The Minister of Health resigns

June 13th

Health Minister Jaime Manalich after growing criticism of the way his department handled corona statistics. The government has stated that the corona virus has claimed over 3,000 lives in Chile, but new data shows that just over 5,000 dead have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). Deputy Health Minister Paula Daza explains that the higher figure includes both confirmed and suspected deaths in covid-19. The pandemic continues to hit Chile despite tough restrictions and extensive testing. Nearly half of the population now lives under strict quarantine rules.

Pinochet relative leaves ministerial post

June 9

Minister of Women and Equality Macarena Santelices is leaving after only a month on the post. Santelices has been contested since she was appointed by President Sebastian Piñera, when she is a relative of former President Augusto Pinochet and is accused of defending the dictatorship 1973-1909. Santelices belongs to the right-wing party UDI, which was founded by Pinochet, and has been mayor of the city of Olmue where she made herself known as a strong immigrant critic. Her brief ministerial term was rife with controversy. She resigned since the criticism reached a crescendo when she appointed a person as an adviser who was best known from a television program with women in swimsuit competitions.


New quarantine after rapid increase in infection

May 16

New strict quarantine rules are starting to apply in Santiago and a few other areas. Residents are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food and medicines, and for short workouts. The day before the new rules started to apply, long car queues occurred when many people moved the city. When the number of new cases of infection had fallen, President Sebastián Piñera decided to start easing past restrictions, and stores and other workplaces could open. But then more than quickly the number of new cases of infection that fell below 1,000 a day for a month quickly doubled, to well over 2,000. The number of deaths in Chile is still low, relatively speaking, and is around 420. The great majority of cases have been reported in the Santiago region.


Prisoners are engaged at home during the pandemic

April 14

The Constitutional Court approves a special law that means that around 1,300 prisoners can serve the rest of their sentences in the home. This applies to people who are particularly at risk of coronary pandemic: people over 75, pregnant women and mothers of children under two years. People convicted of serious crimes such as murder and drug smuggling are not covered by the amnesty. The law is intended to also relieve the pressure in prisons where a total of 42,000 prisoners are needed, which according to a report constitutes a “timed bomb”.


Disaster status announced

March 25th

President Sebastián Piñera announces disaster state in the country because of the corona center. It aims to protect hospitals and health centers, facilitate the transport of patients, healthcare professionals and medical equipment, and facilitate the maintenance of quarantine and food distribution. The state of disaster also allows the president to further restrict freedom of movement. Chile is the country in Latin America with the most coronary cases in Brazil.

Curfew night time is introduced

March 22

Prohibition of staying outdoors is introduced between 22 o’clock and 05 o’clock. The first death in covid-19 has just been registered in Chile.

A referendum is postponed, stimulus packages launched

March 19

The leading political parties in Congress agree to ask President Piñera to postpone the referendum on a new constitution, from April 26 to October 25, because of the corona virus. At the same time, the government is presenting a stimulus package worth $ 11.75 billion to deal with the effects of the pandemic. The police announce that they have succeeded in stopping a major escape attempt from the country’s largest prison. The inmates are worried about being locked up during the pandemic.

The borders are closed due to coronavirus

March 16

Chile is closing its borders for foreigners to try to stop the spread of the new coronavirus causing the covid-19 disease. Three days earlier, crowds of more than 500 people were banned. The central bank also lowers interest rates, but despite this, the Santiago stock market falls by 14 percent, the largest fall in three decades. So far, relatively few cases of corona infection have been detected in Latin America, but there is a risk that the spread will increase sharply. The Chilean airline Latam, the largest in Latin America, states that operations are down by 70 percent. It follows a 30 percent reduction four days earlier.

Protest against violence against women

March 8th

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate in Santiago on International Women’s Day demanding an end to violence against women. Some clashes occur between protesters and police. A strong female protest movement has emerged during the demonstrations that have been going on in Chile since the fall of 2019, focusing not least on violence against women.


New outbreak of violence at music festival

February 23

Despite major security measures, violence erupts in connection with the inauguration of Latin America’s largest music festival, in Viña del Mar. About 30 stores are looted, vehicles are set on fire and a hotel where many of the artists live has to be evacuated. More than 20 police officers are injured in clashes with protesters armed with stones, loggers and molotov cocktail. It has otherwise been a quieter period, after the severe unrest that began in October 2019 and characterized the months thereafter.

Chile Industry

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