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flag Chile Chile: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Main International Economic Cooperation
Chile is a member of several regional and international organizations: it belongs to the UNO and its organizations, to the WTO, to the OAS (Organization of American States), to the ALADI (Latin American Integration Association), to the SELA (Latin American Economic System). Since 2010, Chile is a membrer of the OECD. On the other hand, it withdrew from the Andean Pact in 1976. With Peru, Chile is the only South American member country of APEC (Forum for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). Since the beginning of the 1990s, Chile has conducted a policy of regional trade agreements. Thus, foreign companies which set up business in Chile to develop industrial production there can benefit from privileged access to the region's markets. "Economic complementarities" agreements have been signed within the framework of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), with Bolivia (1993), Peru (1998), Colombia (1993), Ecuador (1994) and Venezuela (1993). Still within the framework of the ALADI, Chile signed with MERCOSUR an association agreement in force since 1 October 1996, aiming to establish gradually a free trade area from 2006. However, because of the economic situation of some neighbors (Argentina), of Chile's desire to maintain the level of its external Customs tariff (quite a lot lower than that of Mercosur) and especially to keep the autonomy of its foreign trade policy, this project has been postponed.

In 1999 a free trade agreement was signed with Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala). The free trade treaty between Chile and EFTA (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) came into force on 1 December 2004. Free trade agreements with Canada and Mexico came into force respectively in 1997 and 1998. They were then followed by the one with the United States, which came into force in 2004. This latter agreement has stimulated trade significantly, without having any noteworthy influence on FDI flows. The agreement of association EU/Chile, called "fourth generation" because of its wide field of application (political, economic, commercial and cooperation chapters) is the most ambitious agreement concluded up to now, as it includes commitments to liberalize services especially financial services, and measures concerning investment (pre-establishment).  Since 1 May 2004 the free trade treaty with South Korea has been in force. The free trade treaty between China and Chile came into force on 1 October 2006. In September 2007, a free trade treaty came into force with Japan (Chile's third top trade partner. The last free trade treaty) and another free trade treaty between Chili and Australia came into force in March 2009. The country have signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).
Chile is part of the Pacific Alliance.

Non Tariff Barriers
The Chilean Customs Administration has reserved the right to apply minimum prices to increase the value of imports (that can be the case especially for certain agricultural products such as wheat, edible oils and sugar). However, some products are more watched over than others, especially pharmaceuticals or farm products. Indeed, these products are subject to an authorization from the Ministry of Agriculture. Some very strict standards totally prevent the import of beef. The import of second-hand vehicles is forbidden (with the exception of ambulances, armored vehicles, and mobile homes). Imported goods that are considered inconsistent with Chilean "morals, public health, national security, or the environment" require special authorization to enter Chile. These include certain chemicals/processes and some media products that face review and possible censorship. Firearms can be imported, but they require a special permit from a military authority in Chile. Controls for importing firearms are becoming more stringent.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports

Customs Classification
Chile applies the Harmonized Customs System. The customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value. Since the 1st January of 2003, the general tariff rate has been 6% on most products, one of the lowest in Latin America. 
Import Procedures
Chile is a very open market. All natural persons or legal entities are authorized to carry out import transactions. In spite of the liberal import regime, licenses are required for goods whose value is over 3,500 USD. In principle, they are granted automatically by the Central Bank of Chile. The importer must present an "Informe de Importacion", a document which must go through the commercial bank. This license is used above all for statistical purposes.
The commercial forms used by both importers and exporters are commercial invoices, certificates of origin, bills of lading, freight insurance and packing lists. Special permission, certificates, and approval documents, such as sanitary and phytosanitary certificates, are required for most agricultural products and in special cases for industrial products.
Importing Samples
It is possible to export temporarily to Chile according to the procedure in the ATA 12 documentation.  It allows temporary admission: - of commercial samples, - merchandise en route to markets, exhibitions and other commercial displays, - professional materials.  The carnet ATA equally applies to postal and transit traffic.  On the other hand it is not acceptable as regards unaccompanied merchandise.
For Further Information
Chilean Customs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Economic Service
Ministry of Economy
National Chamber of Commerce
Santiago Chamber of Commerce

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
According to a study by A.C.Nielsen of changes in the Chilean market, 42% of Chileans say they orient their purchasing according to the price of the product. 68% of Chileans possess at least one credit card. While price remains a factor in purchasing decisions, considerations of quality, durability, technology, customer support and availability of service will also influence the purchasing decision.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
Chileans are not only interested in basic products. More than 50% of them buy electronic goods (e.g. DVDs, mobile phones, music equipment, computers). Rising Chilean purchasing power allows them to invest more in health and education, two fundamental elements for the future.
Consumers Associations
Asociacion de consumidores y usuarios de Chile
Main Advertising Agencies
Grupo Color Advertising Agency
Chile Advertising Agencies (in Spanish)
Members of the Chilean Association of Advertising Agencies (Asociación chilena de agencias de publicidad)

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Products are marketed primarily by direct import or through a distributor. The use of a commercial agent is rare in Chile. The distribution sector is highly concentrated and dominated by supermarkets, which account for 65% of the market share and $13b in net sales. The rest of the market is fairly evenly distributed among wholesalers, fairs and traditional shops (about 12% each).
Market Shares
The distribution sector is highly concentrated and a small number of actors share a large part of total sales. The supermarket sector leader is Wal-Mart Chile (the Líder brand with 33.4% of sales), followed by Cencosud (the Jumbo and Santa Isabel brands, 30.5% of sales), SMU (the Saieh Group, the Unimark brand, 23.9% of sales) and Falabella (with its daughter company Totus, 6.3% of sales). 

The SMU Group is the leader in wholesale, with over 50% market share (supermarkets Mayorista 10 and Alvi Club Mayorista).

Organizations in the Retail Sector
Asociacion Gremial de Supermercados de Chile

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Seaports are the most important points of entry for merchandise entering Chile. As there is no reliable rail network, the domestic movement of goods is carried out especially by road. Goods transport by rail is not very developed and neither is goods transport by airplane. Logistics operations have been modernized, and many new distribution centers and warehouses have been built.
Port of San Antonio
Port of Val Paraiso
Santiago Airport
Sea Transport Organizations
The harbor office of Chile
Air Transport Organizations
Junta aeronautica civil
Road Transport Organizations
Regulation of roads
Rail Transport Organizations
Chilean Ministry of Transport

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The industrial sector contributes about 47% of Chile's GDP and the service industry about 48%.  In the course of the last 150 years, Chile has looked towards exporting its mineral resources, firstly nitrates (used the in the fabrication of fertilizer), then copper, especially since the 1930's.  It has remained the principal exporter of copper in the world, and this metal constitutes without doubt a major pillar of the economy.  In as much as copper still represents by a long way, Chile's principal export, the country has recently succeeded in diversifying its exports, notably in the field of manufactured goods.  From the mining perspective, copper doesn't hold an absolute monopoly since Chile is equally an important producer of iron, zinc, molybdenum, silver and gold as well as manufactured goods( agricultural and food, chemical products , wood and paper.).

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Wine of Chile - Wineries and vineyards.
Winesofchile Directory - List of Chilean wines and member wineries. Provides links to their web sites. - Chile - Directory of companies in Chile.
Catalogo-Empresas - Chile - Directory of companies, industries, products & services in Chile.
Chilnet - Chile's business directory. - Business portal provided by
PlanetaChileno - A search engine for companies in Chile.
Yellow Pages - Find businesses in Chile.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
26 professional associations listed for Chile.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Santiago Chamber of Commerce
The Foreign Investor Committee
Enterprises Federation
Association of organized companies
Technical Cooperation Service
Trade-Union Federation of Chilean Industry

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Last Updates: January 2015