CHILE – Another small trade surplus in September

Import dynamism is set to remain upbeat for the time-being Amid elevated stimulus

Andrés Pérez & Vittorio Peretti


With the domestic demand recovery supported by significant liquidity injections, and global oil prices elevated, the trade surplus in Chile continues to narrow. A trade surplus of USD 79 million was recorded in September, down by USD 1.3 billion over one year. The trade balance did exceed our expectation of a USD 400 million deficit. For the quarter, a USD 230 million surplus was recorded (USD 4.1 billion 3Q20). As a result, the rolling 12 month trade surplus fell to USD 14.3 billion (USD 17.8 billion as of March, USD 18.4 billion in 2020). At the margin, our seasonal adjustment shows the trade balance surplus at a milder USD 7.0 billion in 3Q (annualized; USD 14.3 billion in 2Q21). Going forward, the domestic demand recovery (boosted by increased support measures) and a rising income deficit would see a return to, albeit still-low, current account deficit this year.

Mining export pull moderates. Exports rose 24.6% YoY in September and 28.9% in 3Q21 (similar to in 2Q). Exports in the quarter were lifted by copper sales growth of 32.9% YoY, although the pull moderated from the 54.9% rise in 2Q. Sales of manufactured goods recovered with growth of 23.9% YoY (2.2% in 2Q) amid the unfolding global economic recovery.

Consumer goods imports remain robust. Imports grew 58.9% YoY in September and 62.3% in 3Q21 (60.2% in 2Q). Durable goods imports (vehicles, electronics) continued to double in the quarter (+107.2%) but is showing some deceleration (+161% in 2Q). Energy imports increased 134.8% YoY in 3Q, slightly above the gain in 2Q. Meanwhile, capital goods imports rose 35.8% YoY in the quarter (roughly in line with 2Q), as improving imports of machinery for construction and mining offset slowing imports of cargo vehicles.

With sizable fiscal transfers in place until yearend, rising expectations of another pension fund withdrawal, and the labor market recovery accelerating, import dynamism is set to remain upbeat for the time-being. We expect the current account to post a deficit well above 2% this year, reverting from the 1.4% surplus last year.

Andrés Pérez M.
Vittorio Peretti