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Market Overview

As the United States and Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA) concludes its seventh year, commercial trade, both in products and services, continues to be a resounding success. As of January 1, 2004, duties were reduced to zero on 90% of U.S. exports to Chile with all remaining tariffs to be phased out by 2015.

In 2010, bilateral trade between the United States and Chile reached US$ 17.9 billion, an over 150% increase over bilateral trade levels before the U.S.-Chile FTA took effect. U.S. exports to Chile in 2010 reached US$ 10.9 billion while imports from Chile reached US$ 7 billion. The U.S. has now enjoyed a trade surplus with Chile for three consecutive years.

In 2010, the United States and Chile concluded the negotiations of a bilateral tax treaty that has not yet been ratified in either Congress.

Chile remains one of the most stable and prosperous developing nations and consistently ranks high on international indices relating to economic freedom, transparency, and competitiveness. It also fares very well in terms of democratic development, gross domestic product per capita, freedom of the press, and was the highest ranked country in terms of competitiveness in Latin America, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010.

Chile is a member of the Rio Group, an associate member of Mercosur, a full member of APEC, and a founding member of UNASUR. In January 2010, Chile became the 31st member of the OECD, only the second country to join in Latin America after Mexico.

Since 1990, Chile has enjoyed five democratic elections for President and Congress. After twenty years of the center-left coalition (Concertacion) holding power, Chile’s new President, Sebastian Piñera, was elected in 2009 to serve for four years, until 2014. He is continuing to promote a liberal market economy and prudent fiscal and monetary policies. Education, health care, and making the public sector more efficient are some of the stated priorities of the new administration.

Chile continues to pursue market-oriented strategies, expand global commercial ties, and actively participate in international issues and hemispheric free trade. It boasts the region's largest number of bilateral free-trade agreements60. With agreements with Europe, China, and North America, Chile has given its nearly 17 million citizens unprecedented access to the world’s products and services. This offers a unique opportunity for U.S. exporters interested in expanding their businesses in arguably the most open, stable, and attractive market in Latin America.

The United States remains the single largest direct investor in Chile, representing 24.2% of all net foreign direct investment, from 1974 to 2010. Spain follows closely with 20.8%, and Canada is third at 18.5%.

Macroeconomic stability and growing integration with international capital markets has meant that Chile’s credit rating has been the same as that of an investment grade “A” country for over 25 years, an unmatched record in Latin America.

Learn about Doing Business in Chile in our Country Commercial Guide (CCG).  This comprehensive document presents an overview of the local commercial environment, using economic, political, and market analysis. It is prepared annually through the combined efforts of several U.S. Government agencies at the U.S. Embassy.